The fifteenth episode of HUM TV’s series, ‘Ustaani Jee’ addresses the issue of harassment at workplace. Alongwith it, it also tackles some other problems which are closely linked to this kind of harassment and become ineluctable while addressing the issue.
Starring Taqi Ahmed (Zafar), Maria Wasti (Rukhsaar), Saif-e-Hassan (Mansoor) and Mona Shah (Asmara) as the guest actors, the story of this episode revolves around Rukhsaar, a poor woman who works as an employee under Zafar, a molester who demands sexual favours from his female workers. When Rukhsaar’s conditions continue to grow worse, her husband, Mansoor, asks her to demand a loan from her boss so that he can pay for his bike’s tuning. When Rukhsaar requests Zafar to lend her some money, he agrees initially but in lieu, asks Rukhsaar for sexual activities. When he moves uncomfortably closer to her and grabs her hand, Rukhsaar slaps him on the face. However, the boss takes revenge by lying in front of all the staff members that it was Rukhsaar who approached him for sexual favours, and even makes the false story reach Mansoor, who asks his wife to leave the house without listening to her side of the story.
However, Ustani Jee, the stock character enters when Rukhsaar demands help from her. Ustaani Jee (Yasra Rizvi) engages one of Zafar’s employees, Asmaara to help them in presenting Zafar as a molester. Asmaara, also an abused employee, initially refuses to help Ustaani Jee and Rukhsaar in fear of losing her job and gaining the mistrust of her husband, but on insistence, agrees to devise a plan to hand over Zafar to the police. The plan succeeds, Zafar is arrested and Mansoor apologizes from his wife for not listening to her and not trusting her.
Harassment at workplace is often talked about. But seldom is the fact discussed that many women are forced to surrender before the abusers because of their poor financial conditions, for if they refuse to give sexual favours, they are fired which is something they cannot bear because of extreme poor conditions. The character of Asmaara epitomizes that whole helpless section which is forced to sexually satisfy the ones who provide it with money. The other fact related to harassment, and one which is very common in our society, is blaming the victim. We hardly ever blame the abuser and consider him wrong, but most often, the assaulted woman is held culpable for being victimized. Either her character is targeted at, or her clothes and gestures are considered as enticing. This same mindset has been reflected through the character of Mansoor who does not care to listen to his wife but considers her responsible for the whole act.
His apology in the end does seem a bit idealistic, for hardly it happens that eastern, specifically Pakistani men bow their heads before their wives and admit their mistakes. But that is what ‘Ustaani Jee’ is all about. It is a series created with certain objectives and is meant to teach people. If things get better in the end of episodes and people turn into good human beings surprisingly, it is because this series gives us the hope that this world will be a better place to live in one day and motivates us to contribute to this making.
This episode, on the whole, is a treat owing to the appearance of some veteran actors like Maria Wasti and Saif-e-Hassan, who make even a one-episode story an interesting piece to watch. They incline us to stay hooked to the series and look forward to more interesting stories and lovable performers in the coming episodes.