Media is an extremely powerful tool in bringing the less discussed social issues and societal crimes to public knowledge. It is an influential entity in spreading awareness and educating the public about serious socio-cultural subjects such as rape and child abuse. However, in the era of privatized media, the need to monitor the way in which the spotlight is being shed on these important issues is extremely vital.
Good Morning Pakistan, ARY’s long-running morning show hosted by Nida Yasir is under fire once again. A recent episode of the show is being criticized heavily on social media where Nida invited the family of a young girl, Marwah, who was a victim of a brutal rape-murder case.
What went down
Nida invited the family of the late Marwah, a 5-year-old rape cum murder case victim on her show, to publicly discuss the details of the tragic incident. Nida started the questioning by first apologizing to the family, which included Marwah’s father and grandparents, for asking them about the whole incident but deemed it necessary for the sake of getting the case the investigation and the attention that it deserves. She also stated that the possibility of any eye-witnesses coming forward also increases when the details of the incident are brought to public attention.
The questions asked by Nida were a mixture of the investigation procedure and the incident’s details. Nida was asking the victim’s family their first-hand account of how the incident occurred and how much help from the authorities have they been getting about their tragedy. The tone of the entire episode was solemn as both Nida and Marwah’s grandmother broke down crying multiple times during the episode when talking about this sensitive topic.
Nida stated in the show that the family members are unable to have a constructive conversation because of their disturbed psychological state and hence not more shall be expected from them. Therefore, among the guests on the show was an ARY reporter who had reported the details of the incident for ARY News. He shared more professional details about the incident and gave updates about the investigations that were going on. During her interactions with other guests on the show such as Frieha Altaf and philanthropist Sarim Burney, Nida repeatedly expressed her apologies and concerns to the family of the victim for discussing the details of the show in front of them.
The sensitiveness of the issue
Owing to the extremely sensitive nature of the issue, the emotions in the episode were very high. At one point, Marwah’s grandmother got overwhelmed and started crying with pain as she mourned her granddaughter’s tragic death. Nida cried with her and allowed the woman to speak to her heart’s content without interrupting her.
To her credit, Nida was mindful of the sensitiveness of the issue and was hesitant to ask certain questions. She even stopped the reporter from indulging in triggering details of the case. However, there were several points in the episode where Nida could have intervened and spared the family of the victim more emotional trauma.
Social media backlash
Segments from the episode have surfaced on social media. The segments and the episode have received flak on social media for emotionally abusing the sentiments of the family for the sake of channel ratings. Netizens have panned the insensitive nature of Nida Yasir’s questioning from Marwah’s family. Some even felt that the show was designed as a rating gimmick.
The comment section under the video that featured Marwah’s grandmother’s breakdown is full of comments criticizing Nida for fishing for dramatic content by giving her a platform to speak when the lady was not in control of her emotions. The comments criticized that why was a grieving grandmother’s personal outburst highlighted on live television and deemed it as being derogatory for the family’s sentiments. As it was already quite evident that the grandmother was in trauma and was losing her emotional control after short intervals, it wasn’t sensible enough to ask her about her feelings.
Apart from YouTube, the topic also gained recognition on Twitter and Instagram. The angry netizens have even tweeted to PEMRA for a ban on the show.
Nida Yasir, host of 'Good morning Pakistan', in her disgusting appetite for ratings called parents of Marwah & went on to ask merciless questions, reliving the pain & agony of parents. 'Be Sharam. Be Ghairat Log.@reportpemra wake up from sleep and take action.#JusticeForMarwah pic.twitter.com/2X0ujT32O2
— Qazi (@qazisays) September 15, 2020
Upon receiving backlash for a clip of the incident discussion, Nida replied to a few public comments on Instagram stating that not everything needs to be scrutinized and that the conversation shouldn’t be seen out of context. She claimed that such antics do not increase the TRPs of the show rather it helps them spreading awareness and education about such social issues.
Nida added that the show has helped the investigation process severely and hence the suspects have been arrested. She also mentioned that the episode has helped Marwah’s family in receiving financial assistance.
Although Nida’s statement of the suspects being found in 2 days is slightly exaggerated as the show went on-air on 9th September whereas the suspects were taken into police custody on 15th September. And as per the discussions that happened in the show, the police were already investigating the matter and had caught a few suspects of the case when Marwah’s family was invited on it. Add to it how the incident happened on 4th September while the show was aired on 9th September and the public isn’t conviced by the show’s seemingly selfless motivations.
The negative public feedback is against the insensitive misconduct of the discussion by dramatizing a discussion about the tragic incident for the sake of ratings. Nida could have handled the discussion on her show in a more sensible manner, but her intention for the show doesn’t seem doubtful. We hope that this backlash from the audience will be received in a constructive way by the show’s producers and that will reflect in their future discussions on such vulnerable subjects.