Pakistan's media targets women in pursuit of ratings
22 Feb 2014

TARGET – Episode No.190 by aajnews

Pakistan’s media has become increasingly powerful in the decade and a half since then-president Pervez Musharraf eased restrictions on new TV channels. The move sparked a boom in channels that hasn’t slowed and has encouraged the pursuit of ratings and viewers.

The crowded broadcast media market has driven the networks to cover lavish weddings during their morning shows, or dissect domestic disputes between husbands, wives and mothers in law. But more importantly and tragically, the networks are filling with shows aimed at “policing” women in this conservative nation.

While in the families, fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, and other male-figures make sure that women don’t do any jobs or say anything that affects family name, in the working places too, policing of women is common. From telling them how to dress to how to be soft-spoken and more feminine, the trend of considering women as some property is prevalent.

So too with the media. A recent episode the show Target, broadcast on Aaj TV made many liberals cringe.

Under the guise of protecting Muslim values, the show’s producers and host broke laws while behaving like a proxy police force.

The Aaj TV team swooped on an apartment where they had heard women were involved in prostitution, which is illegal in Pakistan. The video then shows the programme’s host making a fake call to get his team member inside the apartment. Later — after the police break the lock on the door without showing a warrant — the host berated the women inside. “I know women like you” he yells.

While the show’s host Syed Shahryar Asim does claims he could go ater all the powerful people who frequent the brothel, he never names them. Perhaps it is easier to intimidate helpless women than the influential men who actually back the brothels.

At the end of the programme, Superintendent Police (SP) Ali Asif advises people to call 15 to report illegal or illicit activity. While in a civilised country, that would be the way to report criminal activities, in Pakistan, apparently, investigations and trials are carried out by the media. Be it some case to be handled by police, parliament or Supreme Court, Pakistan’s eager media anchors have taken it on themselves to police, stalk and harass anyone in their way.

For women featured in these reports the consequences can be terribly serious.

– The video in Urdu can be watched from this link.

This article was posted on 25 February 2014 at

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