Hadiqa Kiani responds to ‘Hadsa’ backlash for allegedly using motorway incident survivor’s story
The team behind the television show Hadsa has recently found itself at the centre of a storm as internet users criticised its portrayal of a sensitive topic. The series has faced backlash after journalist Fereeha Idrees took to X to share a rather distressing conversation with Z – the motorway incident survivor on whose horrifying tragedy the show is allegedly based.
The journalist shared, “I was a bit taken aback seeing her call; so much had happened since then, but the culprits were still not given punishment despite her appearances alone in compensate coverings. All the while, as she fought her case looking for the justice she deserved, her main concern was moving on, taking culprits to the gallows, and keeping her identity protected.”
Fereeha tried to make conversation with a silent Z when suddenly, she heard “loud noises of moans and painful shrieks.” Speaking between tears, Z asked if someone could make a show on the unfortunate incident. “They have made a drama on my life as if I am nothing,” told the survivor to Fereeha. “No one asked me, it’s the same, they are showing the same things, oh my God! Why didn’t I die before reliving this again?”
The survivor continued to state between sobs, “The moment the drama episode goes on air, all comments start talking about the motorway incident. Can’t they let me forget about this? They have followed my life. Isn’t this harassment? How [have] they traced things in my life when I was so clear about 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?”
Z continued to say, “Can’t I just forget about this and move on? The drama shows the lady in the hospital like I was; does she even know what it was like? How can you act about something so cruel and awful when you know this happened to someone in real life? Oh my God, I died watching that. I was numb. I was given a bath alive after the incident. Like they bathe dead bodies, that’s how I was bathed. I am dead inside already; what do they want to kill now?”
Fereeha then shared how Z asked a viewer whether the show took permission from her, and the viewer responded by saying that permission was, most likely, not taken. Z said, “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 with this triggered trauma? What my kids and husband will be going through? Do they even know how I am spending my life? Every day 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…Every time someone knocks at the door loudly, my kids look at me with concerned eyes because they know I will be scared.”
Fereeha said further, “Z said that she had not achieved an award that it was to be glamorised and made into a drama. She had struggled with a painful incident and a reenactment of it so sensationally into her face was mocking her pain. She said the drama writers should know such incidents are ‘painful’ and making money at someone’s pain is ferocious.”
The journalist highlighted, “Z kept on explaining what a massive struggle her life had been since the trauma and how people hindered her healing. How she has finally started moving on until the drama.” She revealed that she intended to share the conversation so that some action could be taken.
Social media backlash
Since then, Hadsa received massive backlash. “I’m in tears reading this. Not only do they deny us justice in this country, but then they sensationalise our trauma to make money. This is disgusting and needs to be stopped,” said one X user. “The drama is so triggering for all the women out there, but I can’t even imagine what that brave woman is going through. Last time at Tere Bin, it was ‘marital rape’, so you guys got a press pass by adding voiceover,” said another.
One X user said, “I didn’t need to read this to understand Z’s anguish. This grief and pain is hers but not only hers. Every rape survivor in this country now knows that our ‘hadsas‘ are entertainment fodder. Violated, traumatised, yet we get nothing but continuous pain.” Another said, “I think it’s been made apparent time and again that most of our drama/entertainment industry is devoid of any morals, but it’s astounding how they manage to hit new lows consistently.”
An X user noted, “This is deeply upsetting. Thinly veiled attempts to pass off stories of sexual violence against women as ‘commentaries’ rather than what they’re actually meant to be: ritualistic, embedded exploitation of women’s traumas as entertainment. Vile.” Another said, “This is absolutely horrifying. Cashing in on someone’s tragedy makes them relive their trauma again and again. This is just vile. PEMRA, where are you on such occasions? This is just criminal.”
Hadiqa Kiani responds
Hadiqa has since taken to X to address the situation. “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. 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 on the true incident?’ I made it clear that I would not do the project if it were based on 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 on the 2020 motorway story.”
She further stated, “Unfortunately, the horrific act of rape and violence happens far too often in our society to men, women and children from all social classes and all regions – often it happens on the road – in obstructed areas. Too often, family members are forced to witness the terror. These are the realities of the world we live in. I have sadly been exposed to many stories like this one, but I can say that Hadsa is not based on any one person’s story; it is based on a sickly common part of our reality.”
She capped off her statement, saying, “Rape and sexual violence are painful and traumatizing subjects – especially for survivors. I believe that episodes should air with trigger warnings, with caution for all those who have been exposed to such evils. I am in no position to say how survivors should respond – all I can say and hope for is that we bring the conversation regarding this evil forward and that we can all make strides to protect and empower survivors.”