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PEMRA fines Neo News for airing 'misogynistic' remarks against cricketer Nida Dar

Updated 24 Sep, 2021
PEMRA ordered the channel to air an unconditional apology. File Photo
PEMRA ordered the channel to air an unconditional apology. File Photo

In what is being widely called a landmark ruling, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) this week ordered a news channel Neo News to apologize and pay a fine of Rs200,000 for an interview it broadcast in which “insensitive, demeaning, derogatory, hateful” remarks were made against woman cricketer Nida Dar, the first Pakistani to take 100 wickets in T20 International cricket.

In a video clip from a show 'G Sarkar with Nauman Ijaz' broadcast in June on Neo News, former Pakistani cricketer Abdul Razzaq said women players, in striving to be equal or even better than their male colleagues, gave up on the idea of getting married, saying about Dar: “If you shake her hands, you won’t even feel she’s a girl.” One of the host comedians also joked that the cricketer seemed to be “allergic” to the notion of marriage.

Pakistani tennis star Aisam ul Haq Qureshi filed a complaint with PEMRA for what the petition called blatant misogyny and distasteful language.

“The council is of the unanimous vote that the remarks/comments passed by Mr. Abdul Razzaq and others are insensitive, demeaning, derogatory, hateful,” PEMRA said in a ruling, ordering that the channel to pay the fine and air an unconditional apology not only to Dar but to women in general.

Most strikingly, the Council of Compliance (COC) said the channel could no longer invite guests on its shows who had “a history of making insensitive remarks toward women.”

Referring to comments by Razzaq, the council said that the cricketer was "implying a presupposed notion that cricket is a sport only meant for boys, who define the masculine nature of the sport".

PEMRA’s order states according to the complaint, the woman host on the show also “degrades and shames the career adopted by female cricketers, expressly stating that female cricketers mostly leave cricket when they get married”.

In its order, PEMRA said that the remarks about women quitting cricket after getting married was a ‘generalisation’ and it would lead to discrimination against them.

The viral interview and backlash against Razzaq led him to put out a tweet saying he had “utmost respect for all women, especially our women cricketers, who have made great strides in our sport.”

“Although these comments were made in a lighted-hearted way and not to offend anyone, on reflection the choice of words and their presentation was poor and wrong. I have subsequently called Nida Dar and clarified my position.”