Women Parliamentarians or Model Girls By Tazeen Akhtar
How Media is portraying them? A discussion
“Jo Bikta Hay – Wo Dikhta Hay “was the observation of most of the women politicians and women from media during a discussion on how media is portraying women in parliament and what the role of women in media is in this regard.Urdu saying quoted above means that “TV Channels show only that is purchased by the viewer“. Further we can understand it as media is throwing into the eyes of the viewer towards what they are attracted more. Women are central and focused in this policy of the channels as if they are the best commodity. Actually women are badly affected by this trend because most of them do not prefer to be shown like a show peace or model.
Who is wrong and who is right when we talk about media ethics and priorities regarding women parliamentarians and women in media itself? This discussion can never come to an end but certainly we can share the feelings what women undergo when they are shown only as a decoration or fashion thing. We don’t take interest in what they are doing as the representative of public. As for as women in media are concerned, the problem with them exists in another form, that they too are assigned the tasks and promoted according to their face value and openness, not with respect to their abilities or talents. They are asked by the seniors to make the packages of only those who are “Beautiful and Bold “.
This problem prompted social organization Uks to arrange a forum with support from a German think-tank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in which all the aggrieved parties may be given an opportunity to express their complaints to the concerned officials of the media. Tasnim Ahmer was the organizer of this forum, held a few weeks ago in Islamabad. Women members of assemblies and political parties from length and breadth of the country were invited. There were a good number of them from all major parties.
But the second party, Media did not show up satisfactorily. Moreover, the present lot was cut sized to only one group. It was expected that officials from different media groups would be provided time and opportunity to bring forward their point of view and a number of their representatives were present but only one media group was picked up as it was enough for the organizer who told that the gentlemen from this media group are her friends.
Rana Jawwad from Geo TV and Amir Mateen from The News defended their respective organizations very well but the women politicians were not satisfied and convinced. So all the other invited media representatives were deprived of commenting on the subject. Actually they felt themselves irrelevant at the occasion.
Anyhow the forum took start with Tasnim Ahmer in the centre. Women politician from Lahore, Peshawar, Hazara, Gilgit Baltistan, Quetta and Islamabad participated vehemently. They included Rahila Durrani, Nagina Khan and Mrs Mehboob Shaukat from PTI, Rakhshanda Iqbal from PPP, Mussarrat Shahin actress turned politician, A lady MNA from JUI and others. Some reporters from different newspapers and the writer (myself ) were also present. Prominent was Tahira Abdullah, civil society representative.
Women politicians said that media is focused on their face beauty, bangles, goggles, shoes, hand bags and even on what they are wearing, how they are walking and how they are looking. Some women said that their camera starts from the foot and goes up to head and hair as if we are models rather than politicians.
Women with hijab, hailing from JI and JUI, said that we are safe in this regard. And that is only because there is nothing to attract the viewer in our appearance. We were Burqa that covers us from foot to head. Therefore we have nothing special for camera. What we are doing in assemblies for our women and society has never been some important thing for our mainstream media.
Tahira Abdullah said “Women themselves should observe the limits. Only Media is not to blame. She said a channel was airing interview with a young women MNA who is daughter of two MNAs, father and mother, both. She took them into her bed room and they aired everything present there. I ask that women why it was necessary to take them into the bed room. It was she who allowed them. She could have excused but she did not.
A female reporter from a channel was very critical about media high-ups regarding coverage of the women. She said “The woman reporter having not a beautiful face and modern clothing is not in their good books. Only an ultra mod pretty faced reporter is qualified to go into the field. I can’t arrange these two qualities. So I am not good at work”.
Everyone felt pity for her and cursed the owners and seniors of Media.
Amir Mateen emphasized the need of training for new reporters and cameramen so that they can observe the social ethics and moral values of the society.
Rana Jawwad said that we always try to keep the limits. Our channel is not that is being portrayed here.
No, No, No was the reaction from all the present women politicians, but they showed kindness to Rana Jawwad saying that he is not the only person answerable to us. The owners should be brought in this discussion so that we ask them directly. Tasnim Ahmer admitted that she can’t bring the owners in front of you. They would not listen to me. She admitted her failure in this regard. The participants were looking disappointed because of her remarks as they felt that all of their objections and reservations would go unaddressed.
However Tasnim announced that her NGO is setting up a complaint cell where the women can register their voice that would be conveyed to the owners.
The forum discussed many other things that are not appropriate to state here for certain reasons. In short the participants discussed even a number of issues that are not only the taboos but are considered “bad taste” in our society.
Interestingly, the most important party of this problem is not the media owners. Actually it is the viewer and they had no voice in this forum. Media owners are at second number. Everything is being done in the name of viewer that the viewer demand is women as a dream girl. It is not the case. In fact viewer itself is fed up with that policy. The public demands more and more programmes on their social and economical problems. Unless and until they are brought on board, no such discussion or dialogue can bring results.
The writer is editorial advisor, centerline and can be reached at
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