The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (PEMRA) is back with another controversy. It is ironic that the regulatory authority tries to get rid of controversial content elsewhere but always finds itself stuck in a controversial whirlpool. This time PEMRA has issued a notice barring all TV channels from showing intimate scenes and by intimacy they mean the portrayal of a married couple hugging one another because God forbid which married couple even thinks of showing such love to one another. The regulatory body has stated that such scenes go against the norms and values of the Pakistani society and if one thinks about it otherwise, they are not totally wrong. This society thrives on domestic violence, rape and murder and therefore, it absolutely goes against the values of the society to show a relationship based on love and respect.
The notification also states that characters must not be dressed indecently because such content is “highly disturbing, distressing for the viewers and against the commonly accepted standards of decency”. Naturally in a society where the people on the helm believe that men are not robots who can always control their animalistic urges to pounce upon the next living, breathing vulnerable person, such content will be disturbing. However, it is still not the government machinery’s job to police outfits worn by women on television or elsewhere.
It is time for PEMRA to step away from moral policing as cultures and traditions evolve. Moreover, it is necessary for media outlets to display healthy intimacy between couples so that people may learn what relationships should be like. The regulatory authority must go after plagiarized content and copyrights violations instead of checking on hugs, high fives, flying kisses and so on. We all know that dramas represent a fantasy world, not the real one. It should put a ban on those drama serials that show domestic violence in a positive light and promote it. This mindset of those who order such notifications to be passed on are the reason why the society keeps regressing. If PEMRA cannot stop itself from moral policing, it should start where the problem actually exists. It should lay heavy fines on those TV channels that produce content which does actual harm to society such as dramas where men are given the liberty to slap their wives, sisters and daughters. Or women are boosted for cheating their partner. It should fight the scenes where a woman is not considered to be a woman but an object that can be bought and sold in the name of marriage. It should ban content which portrays forced marriages as a positive cultural norm. There are many more areas that can be looked into by PEMRA but it always chooses the worst and most useless non-issue.