The verbal spat between Pakistani writer Khalil-ur-Rehman and journalist Marvi Sirmed has brought to attention the ineffectiveness of media houses in ensuring civility on talk shows, the lack of sensitisation of anchors and analysts to be able to tackle minority issues, and the absence of action by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) regarding content that promotes gender inequality and upholds patriarchal values. It is important to note that the remarks given by the writer were a result of the distaste for women who have decided to yet again march for their rights in Pakistan - a country where ideas of shame and honour are attached to the actions of the female gender.

The anchor of the show is also to be held responsible for failing to stop Mr Khalil from making such comments, and for also not being able to navigate the conversation despite their own selection of guests with varying viewpoints. Displaying such disregard for fellow individuals, especially women and other marginalised groups only reinforces what the masses already believe, squeezing the space for speaking up even more. All the individuals involved when content is aired on national television should be held responsible for the words they utter because they have a lot of influence and if that influence goes unchecked, the issues of women and other minorities are not going to make it to the forefront. Women empowerment is a specially sensitive area for the Pakistani population. Those tackling or deconstructing the issue should be able to deal with it intelligently in order to have solution and understanding driven conversations instead of becoming platforms for the verbal spat between varying opinions.

This is the kind of regulation the government needs to invest in and get behind. This requires active engagement of PEMRA - which can be empowered to understand how content is actively marginalising women further and only through a pushback from the top, can this practice be changed.