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Urdu digests designed especially for women are the most popular digests around Pakistan. For decades, they are being read by teenage girls and adult women. In every second house, digests are read monthly with utmost interest. In these digests, the main genre is romance.
A few writers being exceptional, are writing on other than romance but, a majority of them are only stuck to romance. Writing romance is not a bad thing, rather it is one of the most appreciated genres in literature but in our digests romance is being manipulated and misunderstood mostly.
Growing up, I have read tons of these digests. I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy them but the thing is, these digests writers, especially the young ones, only focus on cliche romance stories. They brush aside other things and the story revolves around one or two characters who fall in love and the universe is against their love. This is an acceptable case but, what bothers me is that in these digests, there are stories that totally negates women’s rights.
You will find stories in which a husband will abuse his wife but the wife would not say a thing because she is being “Tammezdaar and Acchi Biwi”. A girl will marry a man twice her age for her “Khandaan Ki Izzat”. Some will live her life in total misery and would not complain. Actually, these writers are romanticizing abuse. And, the readers are unconsciously adapting these things.
Girls are brainwashed that they do not need to a thing for themselves, knights in shining armors are coming for their rescue. Though it should not be mattered if their knights are misogynists and arrogant. Other than this, these writers are also misleading girls regarding their married life and in-laws relations. In every other story, a monster mother-in-law is snatching her son from his wife. Girls are made mentally prepared that in their in-laws there is only hate and betrayals.
A woman, as the same is made, believed that her daughter-in-law is going to be between her and her beloved son. Working women are condemned in these digests. The writers emphasize that a woman should stay at home and never think of working because they are for the houses. The effects of these stories might seem little but no, they do effect girls’ mentality to worse.
Girls think that they are helpless and cannot do anything for themselves. They endure things which they should speak against but since a heroine in some novel does not do that, they would not do it too because according to the writer, the consequences are really bad. There are some exceptional writers like Sumaira Hameed, Farhat Ishtiaq, Umaira Ahmed, Nimra Ahmed and some others who broke the stereotypical approach and are the hope for betterment in these digests but still, there are writers who need to either improve themselves or just backup.