KARACHI: The scriptwriter of a popular Pakistani television serial on Friday defended her decision to introduce the theme of marital rape in the latest episode after receiving social media criticism, saying it was a demand of the story and not the first time such a subject had been addressed on local television screens.
The drama serial “Tere Bin” has received lavish praise from viewers since its premiere in December. Starring Wahaj Ali and Yumna Zaidi, the record-breaking production has gained massive popularity not only in Pakistan but also in India and other countries.
The story revolves around the lives of Meerub (Yumna Zaidi) and Murtasim (Wahaj Ali), who captivated the audience with their performance and portrayed a love-hate relationship after their marriage in the serial.
However, fans expressed disappointment after the recent episode aired on Thursday when the teaser for the next episode hinted at possible marital rape.
In the last episode, Meerub spits and slaps Murtasim after catching a glimpse of him being locked in his cousin’s embrace. At the end of the episode, Murtasim drags her toward the bed and shuts the door.
“It’s a situation which was the demand of the serial that will lead to the climax,” Nooran Makhdoom, the writer of “Tere Bin,” said in an interview with Arab News.
She maintained that those questioning the inclusion of marital rape and asking for changes should understand that this is how she intended to weave the story.
“If the audience isn’t getting it, I can’t change it,” she continued. “It’s just a drama. They should wait for the entire story to unfold instead of taking issue with every episode.”
Makhdoom pointed out the content team or 7th Sky production house did not object to the storyline.
“It’s not like this has happened onscreen for the first time,” she added. “It’s just that this project has received such wide recognition that people reacted strongly to the recent twist.”
She revealed that the scene had been tweaked before filming, as she had not initially included the spitting and slapping. However, she took complete responsibility for the script.
“If you speak of my social responsibility, I created a story and I stand by it,” she said. “And this is not an unusual occurrence; it has happened before.”
The recent episode that aired on Thursday night has surpassed 18 million views and is currently trending as number one on YouTube. The hashtag #TereBin has also overwhelmed Twitter, with approximately 30,000 tweets in 18 hours.
However, many fans of the television production expressed their dismay after the latest episode.
Fashion and lifestyle journalist Maliha Rehman called the sudden change in the storyline as a “terrible twist.”
“The #Murtasim #Meerub romance will be completely ruined if assault becomes part of the storyline,” she said. “Have been enjoying the drama so far. I do hope that it doesn’t get quite so ugly now, when finally we were moving towards a happily ever after.”
Another Twitter user, who only identifies himself as Haroon, wrote: “This country is beyond finished, trash content like tere bin is being watched by millions of people, embarrassing.”
TV drama critic Aamna Haider Isani took to Twitter and shared her opinion on Twitter, saying: “Just saw the promo for the next episode. Looks like I was wrong, looks like Murtasim does assault Meerub. What an awful turn of events.”