Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Pakistan media regulator says some TV dramas "depict hackneyed image of women and have confined themselves to feminist issues only... ignoring children, teenagers and men".Pakistani television channels might no longer show "intimate moments between couples" or "bed scenes", the conservative country's media regulator has announced. It complained of too much feminist content and warned that such "bold themes" offend viewers. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued its warning on Tuesday, calling on channels to respect the country's existing media guidelines and refrain from airing content that does not depict a "picture of true Pakistani society".
"The prevalent rampant trend of airing quite bold themes in Pakistani drama industry has resulted in massive public complaints," PEMRA said.
"Indecent scenes/dialogues/extramarital relations, violence, inappropriate dressing, rape scenes, caressing, bed scenes, use of drugs and alcohol, intimate moments between couples are being glamourized in utter disregard to Pakistani culture and values," it added.
Pakistani dramas and soap operas, many of which seek to challenge the deeply patriarchal country's conservative taboos, are immensely popular, according to data from PEMRA and Gallup Pakistan.
Many revolve around plot lines portraying social issues such as domestic violence, child abuse, misogyny and women. Activists have previously hailed some as potentially powerful vehicles for grassroots change.
Last year, a soap opera dramatising the life of social media star Qandeel Baloch -- infamous for her provocative selfies, until her shocking murder by her brother in 2016 -- topped the charts.
Other shows highlighting the issues of so-called "honour" killings and forced marriages were also hits, despite being targeted by a wave of vitriol on social media, with people accusing the channels of spreading vulgarity and destroying social values.
In its statement, PEMRA said such dramas "depict hackneyed image of women and have confined themselves to feminist issues only... ignoring children, teenagers and men".
The Saudi teenager fled her family and reached a hotel at Bangkok airport from where she sent out appeals for help via social media. The UN has taken up her case and asked Australia to welcome her.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun said she fears for her safety should she be returned to what she describes as an abusive family in Saudi Arabia. She managed to reach Thailand's main airport at the weekend, where she put out appeals to find a safe refuge.
On Wednesday, the Australian government said it was considering granting the 18-year-old refugee resettlement following a referral from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement," Australia's Department of Homeland Security said in an email.
"If she is found to be a refugee, then we will give very, very, very serious consideration to a humanitarian visa," Health Minister Greg Hunt told public broadcaster ABC.
A social media approach to asylum
Australia has strict immigration policies, but Alqunun's case has received sympathetic attention.
While Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton cautioned: "There is no special treatment in this case," he also said: "Nobody wants to see a young girl in distress and she has obviously now found a safe haven in Thailand."
The UN had placed Alqunun under its protection in Thailand after she had escaped her family in Kuwait by boarding a flight, heading for Australia with a change of plane in Thailand.
She was detained by authorities in Bangkok as Saudi Arabia revoked her passport, but refused to board a flight back to Kuwait. She barricaded herself inside a hotel room at the airport and started to send out messages via Twitter. Within days she had 50,000 followers and by Wednesday, the number had reached 107,000.
Hard times in Saudi Arabia
Alqunun said her abusive family in Saudi Arabia was trying to force her into marriage and had kept her in her room for six months after she had cut her hair. She also told Human Rights Watch that she had given up the Islamic faith.
She refused to meet with her father and brother who arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Thai immigration police chief Major General Surachate Hakparn said UN officials had expected her case would be concluded within days.
Focus on human rights in Saudi Arabia has intensified following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country's embassy in Istanbul last year.
Women in Saudi Arabia have few rights and are restricted as to where they can travel without the permission of a male guardian.