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A Missed Opportunity: How “Mayi Ri” Insulted Girls' Education

'Mayi Ri' was initially marketed as a provocative series attempting to highlight the darker facets of our society, particularly the established problem of child marriage. The narrative was handled in a way that sent a different message than the one intended, which was to portray child marriage as a terrible issue. The main character, 15-year-old Annie, is depicted as having a career-focused mentality but is forcibly married off to her cousin.


The themes of this serial are girl education, child marriage issues, and the "right" age to get married, but the narratives they tell do not follow the expectations of these stereotypes, and they do not stop there. When Annie becomes pregnant, they make them appear startled as if they had never heard of sex, and as though the pregnancy occurred miraculously. A small fraction of the population, however, praised even this, asserting that Islam encourages early marriage and that the girl's pretence of not having had sex represents the "haya" that women must possess.


In the signature Karan Johar style, the viewer is kept interested by the constant adorable teasing, and eventually, the characters become drawn to one another. I mean come on, everyone enjoys a good enemy to lovers' romance, but this has to be the epitome of problematic and cringe.


The massive viewership and popularity of Mayi Ri demonstrate why issues like girls' financial stability and education are regarded as nothing less than exotic in Pakistani society. Romanticizing a 15-year-old pregnant girl being happily married is just corrupt. I mean, how brain-dead do you have to be to glorify child marriage?



The writers do not realise that they just abandoned the entire thesis of their drama for the sake of views and thus, they have simply insulted a sensitive subject. The drama seemed to downplay the significance of girls' education as a pathway to empowerment. Instead of highlighting the importance of academic achievements and knowledge, it placed emphasis on trivial pursuits, sending the message that education is not a priority for girls.


Therefore, do you believe that the writers and directors should be commended for anything in this serial? Because in my opinion, this television series may have had more detrimental impacts than what was initially promised to the audience.


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10 Comments


It's interesting to see the varied perspectives on this drama, even without having watched it myself. The portrayal of forced marriages and the societal pressures on girls, as depicted in the show, raises concerns about the responsible handling of such sensitive issues. National television holds a significant platform to address topics like girls' education and child marriage, and it seems there might have been a missed opportunity to handle this storyline more tactfully.

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Dec 01, 2023
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I agree with you. I think that In countries such as Pakistan where issues like child marriage are normalized and deeply ingrained within societal frameworks, creators handling such topics in media content should exercise heightened caution and responsibility. The portrayal of these sensitive subjects requires a delicate balance, considering the potential impact on reinforcing prevailing beliefs. By depicting the complexities and consequences of such practices sensitively and thoughtfully, content creators have the opportunity to foster discussions and prompt reflection, gradually contributing to a shift in societal attitudes towards more equitable and just norms.


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This sounds very problematic. Media plays a very important role in forming our ideologies. The use of media to romanticise early marriages is insane. I think it is important to raise awareness around the notions of pregnancy and sex, paving way also for safe sex practices and the agency one has in certain situations to say no. This is basically portraying the message of how everything that is mentioned is okay. This is also very triggering (the content of the show) I keep seeing the picture you have added of the girl with tears in her eyes and overall this was very frustrating to read (because of the content of the show) Shows like these promote the idea that yes…

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Dec 01, 2023
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Thank you for bringing up the topic of safe sex practices! Girls who marry early are often forced to drop out of school, with UNESCO estimating that one in every five girls worldwide is married before the age of 18, leading to limited access to information about sexual and reproductive health. They lack information and resources to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections due to limited awareness, resources, and control over sexual decision. Moreover, according to multiple researches girls aged 10-14 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women aged 24 plus, highlighting the increased health risks faced by child brides during pregnancy and childbirth.


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I genuinely loved reading this blog. Your writing style was so captivating (shoutout on the dig at Karan Johar!)


On a more serious note, I did not watch this drama but I was following various discussion threads. I agree that the glorification of 15 year old marriage and then pregnancy is indeed very problematic for the narrative that a good marriage trumps a good education and as you mentioned, sends the message that education is not a priority for girls. The writers and directors should not be commended for anything in this serial and this was communicated very clearly to them as there was an uproar on social media. I think it was because of this very backlash that they…

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Dec 01, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Eesha! :) As you mentioned that it may be considered a feeble attempt at rectification, it signifies an acknowledgment of the criticism and an effort to rectify the damaging message conveyed earlier. I believe that It's essential for media creators to be mindful of the narratives they present, especially concerning sensitive topics like education and gender roles, to avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes.


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I haven't seen this drama, but it does sound problematic. Considering it was aired on national television with viewers from across the country, there was an opportunity to handle this storyline more responsibly. I mean, STOP romanticizing such stuff. They could have highlighted the issue of girls' education and child marriage with a better storyline. Watch 'Akhri Station' by Sarmad Khosat, which addresses these women's issues effectively if you can. The storyline is subtle and well-written. Television and theatre play a crucial role in educating and changing the perspective of the masses. It can create awareness about certain topics. If drama writers think deeply, they can do better.

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Nov 28, 2023
Replying to

Although I haven't seen the drama myself, I thought it was important to discuss how it was portrayed because it seemed problematic in the viral videos that went popular on social media. National television networks have an obligation to handle delicate storylines with greater consideration, particularly when touching on important societal issues. This is because, in my opinion, media can be an extremely effective teaching tool, particularly for those who lack formal education or are illiterate. Visual and auditory media provide access to information for those who are uneducated, allowing them to learn about societal issues and gain knowledge. If content like this were to be romanticised and broadcast nationally on television, I think it would have the opposite effect…

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Shamsa Kanwal
Shamsa Kanwal
Nov 17, 2023

I appreciate your perspective on the drama, acknowledging its portrayal of the harsh reality faced by many girls who are pressured into early marriages. The show seems to shed light on the societal expectations placed on girls, emphasizing their role in managing households, taking care of their husbands, and assuming various responsibilities. While you personally found the drama disturbing due to its depiction of forced marriages, it's evident that the intention was not to insult girls' education but rather to expose the challenges they encounter.

The main character's journey, though difficult, is seen as fortunate in the context of the storyline, as she manages to continue her education even after having a baby. This stands in stark contrast to the…

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Saghaam Fatima
Saghaam Fatima
Nov 28, 2023
Replying to

I completely understand and respect your perspective regarding the drama's portrayal of the societal norms and the challenges faced by girls pressured into early marriages. However, I personally feel that while addressing such a delicate topic, the storyline could have been handled more responsibly. It's crucial to depict these societal issues in a manner that doesn't inadvertently romanticize or normalize harmful practices like forced marriages. I believe that the drama might have resonated with Pakistani audiences due to its portrayal of societal expectations rooted in cultural and religious norms, where marriage often takes precedence for girls. Nevertheless, a more nuanced approach could have been taken to address these complex issues without inadvertently endorsing or romanticizing practices that can be detrimental…

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