TV soap has 9 year old marrying an adult, depicts wedding night

Okayyyyyy. Deeeeeeeep breath.

Sony TV, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! You’re telecasting a TV show with a nine-year-old boy marrying a 19 year-old-woman. Did an actual team of human beings with brains allow this thing to be passed? Did no one, not one person, see this was depicting … ok wait, let me back up.

Pehredaar Piya Ki is a Hindi show telecast during prime time on Sony TV, a general entertainment channel (GEC). It first aired In the third week of July. It’s protagonist is a nine-year-old boy who stalks a 19 year old woman. He creepily takes pictures of her when she isn’t aware, follows her about and insists on marrying her. One of the shows episode even has him rescuing her where she falls off an edge and he holds her by the hand, looking deep in her eyes, a la Bollywood hero. Bad enough the Indian film industry has just woken up to the impact it leaves on the minds of young men by way of street sexual harassment and stalking; but to take that extend it to a TV show with a kid is reprehensible, and entirely unacceptable. It’s a miracle that the makers of the show can get away with not only being entirely asinine but also violating several laws in the country. I am just going to list down the objections I have with this show.

1. The 9 y.o. is seen maang bharoing his 19 year old bride: The two get married -- I am loathe to think how, in which time and in what country -- but they get married in Hindu custom, and the picturisation of a 9 y.o. putting sindoor into the hair parting of a grown woman would give most people the creeps. In a more civilised country, the entire channel with panned viciously before they aired something like this. But this is India. Comfortable, middle class folk whose minds have been rendered dead by years of watching this sort of TV don’t raise their voices or register protest as long they get their brain-dead TV time in the evening, where they don’t have to talk to family members or focus on the hard things in life. In case Sony TV and the makers of the show hadn’t heard, child marriage is punishable by law. Last I heard, a 9 y.o. was a child.

2. Borderline paedophilia: One scene depicts the 9 y.o. and his bride in their wedding bed, on their wedding night. (Check image) They’re not doing anything “objectionable” is the defence but the whole implication of it makes my skin crawl. Paedophilia is also punishable under law. I am pretty sure the depiction too is punishable under the POCSO Act.

3. Stalking and taking pictures without consent: A BJP leader’s son might just go scott free because everyone is blaming the victim that he stalked. When this is what popular media is showing you, do you think women stand a chance? The TV show depicts this creepy child protagonist following the grown woman about and clicking pictures of her surreptitiously. My mind cannot fathom how screwed up that is.

While these are largely my biggest objections, I have a few others as well. Has anyone noticed that you need to explain these things to a 9 y.o. child if you need him to act this out? Which means you’re telling him many, many adult things before he is ready for them. I anyway have a huge problem with children on the sets of a soap or a film. I have no idea how ethically they are treated and what happens to the rest of their lives, but having to explain to a child that he is falling in love with a 19-year-old woman seems like opening up his innocence and driving a stake through it.

What’s worse is the cast’s blind support of this show. When TV actor Karan Wahi commented on how twisted this show seemed, a member of the cast took to Instagram to say he’s thrilled with the response the show has got and how viewers must place their trust in the show. Bro, no Indian show has scripts beyond the next two shows. What trust must any viewer have on those who thought it was a good idea to celebrate paedophilia, stalking, and child marriage? In homes where young children and grandparents watch TV without any discretion, where TVs are switched on all the time, there are loads of kids watching this without adults telling them what’s wrong and what’s right. On the one hand, there are a bunch of parents working tirelessly to turn out citizens that go beyond their own small worlds and on the other hand, there’s TV soap makers who are plumbing the depths of regressiveness for either fame or money, or both. I’d like to believe there are enough of us who won’t allow it.

A few of us are getting together to draw up a petition. Watch this space for more. As a mother, I am not about let children be taken advantage of, the idea of children be defiled in this manner.

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