An Open Letter To Smriti Irani, Requesting Action Against ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’

Pehredaar Piya Ki is a programme aired by Sony during the evening prime time slot when families can be reasonably expected to watch TV. It is a show about a pre-pubescent young boy who is obsessed with an adult woman twice his age and shows them in repeated, suggestive — and extremely inappropriate — romantic situations.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, protects children from “offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography”. Depicting a 10-year-old child as a stalker of an adult woman and as someone who has a ‘‘suhaag raat” contextually suggests that the woman has had sex with the child. At the very minimum, it presents the possibility as one that is somehow acceptable.

India’s Child Marriage Restraint Act is clear that minor marriage is illegal. Girls must be at least 18 and boys 21 years old to be legally allowed to marry in India. Despite this, about 29 lakh children in the age group of 10–14 years were reported married between 2001 and 2011, according to a report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The report, released by Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Sikri, states that despite the decline in child marriage, particularly in the age group of 10–14 years, there are 1.1 million boys and 1.8 million girls who were reported married in this age group between 2001–2011.

“Child marriage violates the dignity of the child and is a major human rights violation,” said Justice Sikri. This astonishingly regressive show glorifies child marriage, blurs the importance of consent, tries to present stalking as ‘cute’ and undermines the hard work of generations of social reformers who sought to raise the age of marriage to protect the children of our country.

It is absolutely abhorrent that an entertainment channel should promote a concept that is violative of the dignity of children and is, moreover, against the laws of this country.

Several media organisations have written, panning the show.

Here are a few examples:

Among the objectionable scenes in the show are: The boy stalking the woman in an implied romantic manner. In the first episode, the boy is shown following the woman and taking photographs of her without her consent. In the second episode, there are crass shots and sexual innuendos in the dialogue. E.g. “He is a kid, we don’t know when he will be big enough to satisfy you.”

The show not only violates the rights of children, it also actively promotes misogyny. For example, the boy is shown controlling the actions of his adult wife, telling her what clothes and jewellery to wear, and forbidding her from drinking tea in case her complexion turns dusky. He fills sindoor in the hair parting of his adult wife, and is seen sleeping together on a decorated bed on their ‘suhaag raat’. This show disseminates ideas that are ethically, socially and legally unacceptable in a civilised society.

We draw the attention of concerned authorities to this and request them to enforce the law of the land — in letter and in spirit. We do not support restricting artistic freedom in any form. We appeal to sponsors to desist from endorsing this show and request Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister (additional charge), to look into the content and take action against the channel if it is found to violate Indian laws that safeguard minors.

A petition that seeks to ban the show now has nearly 50,000 signatures.

Here are the undersigned:

Kiran Manral (Author and Columnist)

Sunayana Roy (Writer)

Shakthi Vadakkepat (Tech Blogger, Disability Activist)

Sandhya Menon (Writer, Journalist)

Priya Ramani (Columnist)

Harini Calamur (Founder, Vipra)

Nandita Iyer (Nutrition Counselor, Writer)

Harish Iyer (Radio Presenter, Columnist, Professor)

Namita Bhandare (Journalist)

Shaili Chopra (Journalist and Entrepreneur)

Shwetasree Majumder (Lawyer)

Rituparna Chatterjee (Journalist)

Ruchita Dar Shah (Founder, First Moms Club)

The Married Feminist this week: Genetic Mutant Ninja Marriages What Science Holds for Love

Scientists in the USA recently managed to remove disease causing mutations at the genetic level in human embryos. The implications of this are astounding and worrying. For one, we can all hope to eventually someday be able to eradicate hereditary diseases from the next generation. For another, there is the fear that those with the money to pay, can have their embryos genetically altered to enhance desirable traits, including appearance. Is it time to look at what science holds for love?

Well, humans have been doing this for a long time, albeit outside the laboratory. We choose good looking partners most times, if we can. We look at family history, caste and religion. We make discrete inquiries into family back grounds. Now, we seem closer to genetic manipulation to ensure our offspring have the best possible characteristics. The prospect of super humans, genetically manipulated to be perfect doesn’t seem all that far off.


Sometimes, the state interferes in the mate selection process. In his desire to build the perfect Aryan race, Hitler created a ‘marriage loan’ program where they made interest free loans of 1,000 marks available for men and women intending to marry each other if they could ‘prove’ their Aryan heritage. This was to encourage ‘strong and pure’ Aryans to have more children, according to the historian Richard Evans. The “weak and racially impure” under the Nazi rule were sterilised. This was perhaps, a natural outcome of Adolf Hitler’s ideas about the ‘superiority’ of the Aryan race. In 1925, he wrote in Mein Kampf, “Everything we admire on this earth today—science and art, technology and inventions—is only the creative product of a few peoples and originally perhaps one race [the “Aryans”]. On them depends the existence of this whole culture.”

Read the rest here: