‘I asked is this related to the motorway incident’: Hadiqa Kiani on motorway rape survivor statement
Intense backlash rose on Monday when journalist Fereeha Idress revealed how the drama ‘Hadsa’ was similar to the horrific motorway rape crime, stressing that the survivor was traumatised after seeing her ordeal being depicted online without her consent. Now actress Hadiqa Kiani has responded to the backlash with a lengthy statement where she clarified that initially while reading the script, she had found a lot of similarities between the crime and the storyline, but agreed to do the project after several discussions with the writer.
“When I was asked to do the role of Taskeen for Hadsa my first question was ‘Is this related to the motorway incident?’ ‘Is this based off the true incident?’ – I made it clear that I would not do the project if it was based off anyone’s story. The team behind the project explicitly told me ‘No’. After many conversations with the team and only after reading the script I understood that Hadsa was not related to or based off on the motorway story.”
The ‘Janaan’ singer then shared how necessary she felt it was to do a project like Hadsa which was about how rape was a reality of the world that we live in.
To know that something I have been a part of is being used to hurt and trigger a survivor is something I cannot stand for. pic.twitter.com/7GmV3IMG2B
— Hadiqa Kiani (@Hadiqa_Kiani) August 28, 2023
“These are the realities of the world we live in. I have sadly been exposed to so many stories like this one but I can say that Hadsa is not based off on any one’s story, but based off on a sickly common part of our reality.”
While we appreciate the fact that Hadiqa recognised the reason behind the backlash and came forward to give her side of the story in, the reality remains that the team behind ‘Hadsa’ should have done a better job in executing such a sensitive topic. If the actress had felt in the beginning while reading the script that it was quite similar to the 2020 crime, it should have been her duty right away to step away from a project that was profitting off from the misery and trauma of a survivor, or even chosen to consult her to keep them in the loop.
Also, ‘Hadsa’ team should have consulted with experts about depicting sensitive topics- such as calling rape a “misfortune”‘, or displaying acts of violence and sexual abuse so graphically, so that rape and sexual abuse survivors are not forced to relive their trauma.
Actress Hadiqa Kiani is starring in a new drama series ‘Hadsa’ which depicts the life of a headstrong woman, who is raped while travelling with her son on an empty highway. Many users since the drama began airing, pointed out how the drama’s storyline was similar to the horrifying motorway rape case of 2021, when a woman travelling on motorway with her two children was assaulted and raped by two men infront of her two children. The drama is written by Zanjabeel Asim Shah, and directed by Wajahat Rauf, and stars Aly Khan, Romaisa Khan, Khaqan Shahnawaz.
Journalist Fereeha Idress, who reported the account of the anonymous survivor, has now taken to X, formerly Twitter, to slam the makers behind ‘Hadsa’ for violating the privacy of the lone survivor, who revealed that the makers, nor the star-studded cast and crew, had approached her for consent on making a drama about a horrifying ordeal she had undergone.
In a lengthy statement, Fereeha said the survivor, Z, had tried to keep her and her family’s identity protected, after undergoing the trauma, but was once more triggered by the depictions in the show.
“They have made a drama on my life,” Fereeha tweeted Z told her. “As if I am nothing, no one asked me, it’s same, they are showing the same things, oh my God! Why didn’t I die before reliving this again? You know , I didn’t sleep after the incident for many many nights and it’s all back now, I haven’t slept a wink since I saw this terrible, horrendous depiction of the most terrible moments of my life which I so want to forget. It’s unbearable, I start shivering every day at 5 pm because I know the drama is coming at 7 pm. Why are they doing this to me?”.
The journalist slammed the creators for forcing the survivor to re-live the trauma and not taking into consideration the ordeal she, her loved ones, including the children had gone through. Rather than allowing her to heal and tell the incident on her own choice, they made a drama out of it.-
“The moment the drama episode goes on air, all comments start talking about motorway incident. Can’t they let me forget about this? They have followed my life. Isn’t this harassment? How they traced things in my life when I was so clear of keeping everything so private? My in laws must be watching it, my brother in law, my mother, my neighbours, oh my God! No one even cared to ask me? I am not dead yet! Do they want me dead? Can’t I just forget about this and move on?”
In the next tweet, Fereeha wrote that Z, the survivor, was in extreme distress, speaking to the journalist on the phone. The drama had forced her to re-live the ordeal all over again.
“My question is when everyone knew I never wanted to come in the limelight, why was I thrown into it again and again? So many known people, celebrities, politicians etc wanted to come and meet me or talk to me post incident, but I always declined because I wanted my privacy and didn’t want anything else but the culprits punished. Is it all about making money? Does no one care what I am going through by this triggered trauma? What my kids and husband will be going through? Do they even know how I am spending my life? Everyday is a struggle. I am being thick skinned and staying alive only for my children. They didn’t even care for my children. Do you know my kids have not forgotten..”
Z requested the journalist to get the drama stopped, so that she would stopped being approached by public figures or being recognised as the ‘motorway wali’.
“Can you pls get this drama stopped? Can Pak pls help me stop this? It’s like whole world is watching my misery and pain as I am reliving it. Pls tell them to make this once I am dead, I am alive right now or did they think I would have died? And pls not even after my death as I have children, they can make this after we have all died”
I must share with all of you that throughout this call, Z was in extreme anguish and pain. I started crying myself as I listened to her and at some points I felt so hopeless and shameful at how our quest for good viewership can make us so selfish and heartless. Z told me she… pic.twitter.com/BQOus7XGwa
— Fereeha M Idrees (@Fereeha) August 27, 2023
There has been no response from the makers behind the drama, or from the lead star Hadiqa Kiani and the rest of the actors on this accusation.
This is not the first time Pakistani dramas have been accused of ripping of the trials and ordeals of survivors, without taking consent from the family members or giving them a portion of the profits earned. Previously, it was Bhaagi, starring Saba Qamar, which was accused for depicting the life of the social media star Qandeel Baloch, without the consent of her family members. As Nighat Dad tweeted the father of the murdered star, Azeem Baba, was informed by other villagers that a drama was made on his daughter’s life.
I really hope someone on her behalf (attorney) presents her case to Pemra, this is an extreme violation of someone’s privacy. Urdu1 did the same with Qandeel Baloch parents, I did a long thread after speaking to Azeem Baba (Qandeel’s father) seems like thread has been reported https://t.co/RdCHh7Z2Pf
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) August 28, 2023