Cast: Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Naveen Waqar, Behroze Sabzwari, Hina Bayat Khan, Atiqa Odho and Noorul Hassan Writer: Farhat Ishtiaq Director: Sarmad Khoosat Broadcasting channel: Hum TV Telecast times: Every Saturday at 8 p.m. First telecast: September 24, 2011
Episode 11 of Humsafar was quite dramatic. With the mother-in-law Farida (Atiqa Odho) conniving with Khizer (Noorul Hassan) to be in a ‘questionable state’ with her ‘lowly’ daughter-in-law Khirad (Mahira Khan) so that it looks to her son Ashar (Fawad Khan) that his wife Khirad has been having an affair behind his back, Farida succeeds in driving her son permanently away from his wife. Although Humsafar is the third TV drama that I have watched so far in the last two years, about a woman falsely accused of infidelity/adultery, the other two being Meri Zaat Zarra-e-Benishaan (Geo-2010) and Meray Charagar (ARY Digital-2011), the fact of the matter is that in Pakistan husbands regularly bring false charges of adultery against their wives for various reasons. Mostly it is because the wives have had enough of domestic violence inflicted on them by their husbands and in-laws and have decided to leave them. This upsets their ego and they get back at their wives by putting a false tuhmat on them. Another reason is that husbands wanted to get rid of their older wives and desire to marry younger women. Perceiving the older wife to create obstacles to his new desires, the husband quite easily accuses her of having an affair.
This is not hearsay since all this has been extensively reported by the press and documented by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Often in small towns and villages, women are accused of adultery with no recourse but to turn to their panchayat for justice who more often than not rules against them. For instance on January 29, 2009 in Malisi, a woman X was accused of adultery and the local panchayat pronounced that she be locked up in a room and her hair should be chopped off. Even her daughter had to undergo a similar punishment. Often they are simply killed in the name of ‘honour’, with no chance given to them to share their side of the story.
Falsely accusing a woman of adultery is not restricted to Pakistan. It brings to mind a book penned by a French-Iranian journalist, The Stoning of Soraya M. Set in the 1980s, the book documented the true story of a 35-year-old woman Soraya who was married to an abusive man for more than a decade and bore him nine kids. He decided to have a younger wife and for which he accuses his long-time wife of infidelity. A tribunal is called in the remote Iranian village to look into the matter, where the entire community accuses Soraya of infidelity. Distressingly, her two sons were also part of the tribunal that falsely accused Soraya of the crime. Despite lack of proof, she is stoned to death by a mob.
However there is good news and that too in our country where all you get to here is the opposite. As reported by Express Tribune, a parliamentary panel asked the law ministry on Wednesday to fine-tune a women’s rights bill introduced in 2008 in order to protect women from Qazf (false allegations of adultery). Moved by Kashmala Tariq of PMLQ the bill aims to facilitate women who are subjected to rape under the Offence of Qazf (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance, 1979 or are unable to get cases registered against offenders because of accusations of Qazf. The bill seeks to provide rape and Qazf victims with direct access to court. The proposed amendment aims to add sections to the ordinance stating that “the trial of cases under this Ordinance shall be completed within four months”. It also adds that media should be prohibited from publicising proceedings without express permission from the court and also, “if the person against whom the offence of Qazf is committed or a complainant is a pauper, the court shall provide him a lawyer on state expense.”