The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has released a judgement ordering the reversal of the suspension on the controversial drama ‘Hadsa’, a series banned by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) after the motorway rape survivor accused the show of capitalising on her trauma. Legal expert Reema Omar shared a clip of the judgement on her Twitter account, where it was highlighted that the regulation board had not listened to the drama makers before announcing the ban:
“The inconvenience caused to the applicant/appellant side including their irreparable loss is visible, all these ingredients compel this Court to pass the injunctive order.”
The judgement also ordered that the explicit scene in question- the controversial gang rape of Episode 5- may not be repeated or broadcasted in the upcoming episodes.
IHC has suspended PEMRA’s order banning #Hadsa— Reema Omer (@reema_omer) September 18, 2023
Court says drama can be aired provided the r*pe scene in episode 5 isn’t “repeated/broadcasted in any manner in the subsequent episodes” pic.twitter.com/kRPwHWSazI
The controversy surrounding ‘Hadsa’ began in August when journalist Fareeha Idress shared an account of her conversation with the survivor, who shared that she was not consulted by the show runners who aired the controversial scene, and requested help from authorities to take down the drama.
“They have made a drama on my life,” Fereeha tweeted Z told her. “As if I am nothing, no one asked me, it’s same, they are showing the same things, oh my God! Why didn’t I die before reliving this again? You know , I didn’t sleep after the incident for many many nights and it’s all back now, I haven’t slept a wink since I saw this terrible, horrendous depiction of the most terrible moments of my life which I so want to forget. It’s unbearable, I start shivering every day at 5 pm because I know the drama is coming at 7 pm. Why are they doing this to me?”.
When the phone rang, I never expected this to be Z’s call. Z was the person whom I had spoken to a couple of years ago post her traumatic experience on motorway. Those were tumultuous times when everyone’s attention was focused on Z, while she was grappling to keep her sanity…— Fereeha M Idrees (@Fereeha) August 27, 2023
Hadiqa Kiani released a lengthy statement on her social media accounts addressing the accusation, saying that after consulting the script writer and the rest of the team, she was sure the drama was not based on the motorway rape survivor:
“When I was asked to do the role of Taskeen for Hadsa my first question was ‘Is this related to the motorway incident?’ ‘Is this based off the true incident?’ – I made it clear that I would not do the project if it was based off anyone’s story. The team behind the project explicitly told me ‘No’. After many conversations with the team and only after reading the script I understood that Hadsa was not related to or based off on the motorway story.”
Director Wajahat Rauf answered the criticism by saying the drama was not based on the life of the motorway survivor, and said the purpose of the screenplay was to raise awareness about the ordeal rape survivors go through:
“The drama is not based on the motorway incident. The protagonist, her husband, her three children, the family dynamics, the police officers who investigate the crime, the reason behind the crime, and the trial are all fictional. The only thing common is the part that the incident occurred on a highway.”
“The last thing we would want to do is be insensitive towards someone who has been a victim of this brutal crime. It is our opinion that it would be far more insensitive towards the victims if we did not adopt a condemnation tone; in that case, one might argue that we are not at all familiar with the trauma that a rape victim goes through.”
“Our writer did speak to actual victims who were willing to talk about their trauma and how they eventually coped with it and that is what is reflected in the play. A character should be judged after seeing her entire role. Judgement shouldn’t be passed on the basis of a glimpse of social media posts. Writers and directors can show temporary weakness to show long term strength of a character that develops.”
On August 31, PEMRA released a statement announcing a ban on ‘Hadsa’.