Karachi (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Pakistani drama lauded for its progressive depiction of women has been lifted from the air after complaints to authorities, an act its creators have called a “home run” for misogynists.
The 10-episode series, which launches in August and tracks four women who set up an undercover detective agency to expose unfaithful husbands, has won praise for showing strong female characters taking control.
The film also shows women swearing, drinking and using drugs, and tackling subjects seen by many in conservative Pakistan as taboo, including sexual harassment, marital rape and homosexuality.
This week the series, called “Churails”, or “Witches”, was removed from Zee5, an entertainment platform that airs it in Pakistan, without explanation.
India-based Zee5 did not respond to a request for comment.
The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said it contacted the platform after receiving complaints about the show.
“We cannot block (content) ourselves, but we can write to the platform, which we have done,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Writer and director Asim Abbasi said the decision to remove the show was “predictable, but still disappointing”.
“It’s not just my loss. This is a loss for women and marginalized communities, ”he tweeted.
“And this is a home run for all the misogynists who have proven once again that they are the only votes that matter.”
Actor Nimra Bucha, who plays the killer on the show, said the cast was saddened by the move.
“This is a project that we are very proud of. We support the stories we have told, and the way we tell them, “he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“This is a very Pakistani story.”
Pakistani film critic Omair Alavi said Zee5 had taken a “big risk” in selecting “Churails” as the first in a series of Pakistani-directed shows because it was “far removed from what audiences are used to seeing”.
Women’s rights are a contentious issue in Pakistan.
This year, Islamists pelted demonstrators marking International Women’s Day with stones, shoes and sticks.
Organizers say they are facing a strong backlash from conservative elements in the country, which a 2018 Thomson Reuters Foundation poll found to be the world’s sixth most dangerous for women.
Reporting by Zofeen Ebrahim, additional reporting by Annie Banerji in New Delhi, Editing by Claire Cozens and Lyndsay Griffiths. Please pay tribute to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Thomson Reuters charity, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live free or fair. Visit news.trust.org