Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pakistan Health TV Channel Offers Call-in Sex Advice

Taboo subjects ranging from sex drive to abortion to breast cancer are being addressed on air by call-in show hosts on Health TV channel in conservative Muslim Pakistan, according to an AFP report.

Founded three years ago, Health TV is something of an odd fit in Pakistan, a conservative Islamic state of 180 million people which saw an explosion of private broadcasters in the early 2000s following the liberalization agenda of former President Pervez Musharraf, says the AFP report.

Call-in Questions:

“My husband doesn’t want to make love anymore, what should I do doctor?” asks a housewife.

"Under what circumstances is abortion permissible in Islam"? asks another caller.

While the first question is addressed by a physician in a clinical way as follows:

“We call this loss of occurs when you have a low level of testosterone. You should work on your husband’s diet, feed him more fish and push him to exercise,” he says. “God willing your husband will get better.”

The second question regarding abortion is answered by a cleric as below:

“If anything like this is done to save the life of a mother, then sharia (Islamic law) allows abortion,” says cleric Shahid Madani.

Media Market:

Since President Musharraf's deregulation of the media,  television has become  the dominant medium in the Pakistan media market, with more than three-fourths of adults (76.2%) watching weekly, according to media research data released recently by the US Broadcasting Board of Governors.

In addition to over 100 television channels, more than 100 private FM radio stations have been licensed in the last ten years. Most of them are known for providing basic entertainment - easy listening, popular music, cooking recipes, etc. But some FM stations are also providing useful information through talk shows by experts on legal, psychological and health matters; a community radio station in Lakki Marwat near FATA has a show on modern farming techniques like drip irrigation. In Karachi, at a discussion on organ transplant and organ donation, a caller who identified herself as a doctor, pointed out that those who denounce the practice as un-Islamic forget that technically even blood is defined as an organ.


I personally experienced the pervasive effects of Pakistan's media boom during my visits there. I saw multiple, competing channels catering to almost every niche, whim and taste---from news, politics, education, health, sports, comedy and talk shows to channels dedicated to cooking, fashion, health, fitness, music, business, religion, local languages and cultures etc.  In addition to empowering Pakistani women, the media have had a profound influence on how many young people learn, talk, dress and behave, and emulate the outspoken media personalities, various experts, actors, preachers, singers, sportsmen, celebrities and fashion models. The growth in Pakistan's media market has resulted in more useful information, more advertising, more competition and more choice for the public.

Here's a video clip of the AFP report on Pakistan's Health TV Channel:

In Pakistan, new TV show lifts veil by faizanmaqsood1010

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Media and Telecom Revolution in Pakistan

Newsweek Joins Media Revolution in Pakistan

President Musharraf's Good Governance

Musharraf's Economic Legacy

Veena Malik Challenges Pakistan's Orthodoxy

Newsweek Pakistan Edition Launch

ITU Internet Access Data by Countries

Brief History of Media in Pakistan

The Power of TV: Cable TV and Women's Status in India


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s Saad Haroon is the second-funniest man in the world. The title was bestowed on him at the American comedy club Laugh Factory’s first international competition in October, during which Haroon got more than 7,000 votes in a public poll, beating comedians from France, the UAE and Spain. Haroon, who has been touring in the United States, will perform at the Holiday Inn Dubai Al Barsha on Wednesday, December 17, in a show hosted by Dubai Laughing Comedy Club.

Haroon’s 10-year career has been full of firsts: he created Blackfish, Pakistan’s first improv comedy troupe; he headed the first English-language political and social satire show on national television; and his Saad Haroon: Very Live! tour made him the first Pakistani comedian to perform standup routines in English across Pakistan. Ahead of his show in Dubai, Haroon tells us why, now more than ever, social and political satire in his country has become necessary and relevant.

How did you get into comedy?

I started around 2001, at the time the 9/11 attacks occurred. It was a depressing time for Pakistan – all the war and terror. We were going through a tough time. I wanted to do something that would keep people happy on a daily basis. I was working with my father back then and started to do comedy on the side. It was like I was leading two separate lives. At the time, I thought I’d be a good desi boy and sooner or later give up comedy. But I quit my job instead. I’ll be sharing a chunk of those stories from that journey on my show.

How is political and social satire received in Pakistan?

Pakistan has definitely gone through some hard times recently. As far as politics goes, people will talk about anything. It’s like we are honest to a fault – we call a spade a spade. Generally, when you are part of a society, you tend to gloss over things, but I’m proud that in Pakistan no one glosses over anything. We are still a young country, we’ll see how this honesty ends in the national character and scheme of things.

But is any topic off limits on stage?

There are definitely social taboos. You can say things about politics and you may or may not get into trouble depending on what city you are in and its affiliations. So it does get tricky. Of course, Pakistan is a very religious country, so people don’t appreciate humour about religion. You’ve got to respect sensitivities – performing in the UAE is the same way. My approach is to talk about things in a certain manner and make people laugh.

Offstage, what’s a typical day in your life like?

Very boring. Out of bed at 8am and then it’s just answering emails, writing and correspondence. I don’t have a manager, so I have to handle everything, right from writing, producing, directing, acting and getting through the show. It’s a full-time job.

When you won the title of the second-funniest person in the world you said that even if you had come last you would not have been disappointed. What would have been the consolation?

Just getting nominated would have been the consolation – at least someone is confident of my ability. And in a competition such as this, you meet all kinds of comedians, each with a different style. Just the whole experience was worth it. There is no good reason why I do comedy. It’s a very chaotic and neurotic profession that I’m addicted to.

If you were to run into an alien on Earth, what joke would you tell?

Gosh, I’d just say run and don’t look back. That’s my sad interpretation of what’s going on. I’d ask them what they were doing here and tell them to run for their life.

Riaz Haq said...

Via @nprnews: Live On #Pakistani TV: A Call-In Show About Sex

It's long been assumed that, in conservative Islamic societies, sex is a subject to be spoken about, if it's discussed at all, in guilty whispers.

Yet, for many months now, women in Pakistan have been dialing in to a TV show to ask about profoundly personal issues — live on air.

"I have to talk about my husband," said a woman who gave her name as Sonia on one of the show's recent editions. "His sperm count is very low ..."

She's on Clinic Online, a daily nationwide cable TV phone-in about lifestyle and health. Every Friday, the show offers on-air advice from a doctor about sexual problems.

The show was created by a Karachi-based broadcaster, Health TV, in an effort to explore new terrain in a market crowded by channels obsessed with cricket, Bollywood movies, soaps and above all, news and politics.

Clinic Online's target audience is female. It's broadcast at midday, when males of the household are usually out. The majority of callers are 30-something women, says Faizan Syed, Health TV's chief executive.

Although there's no reliable way of measuring ratings, the Friday show seems to be a hit. There are only two phone lines in Health TV's control room but, when NPR recently sat in on a broadcast, both were in heavy demand.

"The Friday show gets back-to-back calls. There is not a single break between calls," says Syed.

Questions About Infertility, And More

While calls are often from women worried about infertility, plenty of other issues also arise.

"One of the (recent) calls ... was about over-active desire," says Syed, "Basically the woman said, 'I'm not sure how to control this.'"

Syed says the doctor gave her medical advice but also told her to "turn to religion, turn to prayer and pray, and try to get through that moment."

"Yes, that is not a medical response, but let's not forget where we live," says Syed. "Our country is called the Islamic Republic of Pakistan."

Pakistanis do talk about sex. They have a rich supply of edgy jokes, and they also discuss it seriously.

All the same, it's a very sensitive and difficult area.

"You can only talk about it to your closest friends or a close family member, and even that's usually in the context of marriage," says Dr. Uzma Ambareen, a Karachi-based psychiatrist whose patients include people with sex-related problems.

Ambareen says Pakistanis are often wary about sharing their problems because they don't want to risk offending anyone's religious sensitivities.

"I think [religion] is a huge factor," she says, "Even masturbation is not considered acceptable. You never know what the other person's religious views are like, so people are often reluctant to discuss their own concerns. They're afraid of how the other person might respond."

Riaz Haq said...

#PTI Chief #ImranKhan Inaugurates Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in #Peshawar #Pakistan …

A young patient of cancer performed the inauguration of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Peshawar on Tuesday.

Addressing, the inauguration ceremony, the PTI Chief said the campaign for building the hospital in fact played a significant role towards his own character-building.

He said despite all the difficulties 75 percent patents are being treated at the hospital free of charge. Imran Khan said Shaukat Khanum is the world’s only hospital where such a large number of caner patients get free treatment.

The PTI Chief said the construction of Shaukat Khanum caner hospital is the reason for his greatest happiness in life.

He said during the hospital building campaign he got a chance to meet some of the finest people from around the world.