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LAHORE: In session ‘The Crying Game’ panelists veteran TV actress Atiqa Odho and Iqra Aziz with moderator Fifi Haroon discussed female leads being written for drama serials.

The panel agreed there was stereotypical portrayal of the female lead and was seen either crying miserably, or conniving against others. Career oriented women were shown as “evil” and reluctant to do family duties, whereas a good woman was the one who “sacrificed all her desires and needs” for her family.

“We’ve reduced our well crafted and excellently played out drama serials into soaps,” said Ms Odho. “We need to return to our core cultural approach.”

She said that women with no real merit of writing had been brought in as scriptwriters. These women were not exposed to professional life and had a constricted view of life which reflected in their ideas and scripts.

Ms Aziz said that the concept of a “strong woman” was not properly defined, and it was not accepted that both a career woman and a homemaker could be strong.

It was agreed that everyone in the media should refuse scripts that reduced women to shallow people. Classic dramas like Dhoop Kinaray and others portrayed women as normal people.

In the morning session, Sanam Maher’s book ‘The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch’ was discussed by Amar Sindhu, Salima Hashmi and Bahawalnagar police chief Amara Athar.

Ms Athar said the scenario of honour killing was terrible because people recorded these deaths as suicides and there was no proper record of honour killing.

She said that it was unbelievable how vulnerable a girl could be in her own house as her family could plan her murder a room away.

Ms Maher said her book was not just limited to Qandeel Baloch, rather it took into regard stories of several other people who were connected to Qandeel directly or indirectly.

In panel “War Writing”, award wining journalist Rania Abouzeid spoke about her book ‘Syria: Unraveling of a Cultural Haven in the Middle East’. She said that being a journalist in conflict regions was tough, as they had to tell stories and some of these were brutal to experience. Photographer Lalage said that image makers often faced moral dilemma in taking pictures, but one should be human first.

Osama bin Javaid said people were disillusioned by journalists’ presence and often refused to talk to them which made it difficult.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2019