13 Reasons Why became worldwide news after its raw, unfiltered take on teenage suicide. The show paints a post-suicide picture of the town in which Hannah Baker resides. It follows Clay Jensen as he navigates his way through the tapes Hannah leaves behind – recounting the reasons why she ended her own life in a hauntingly gruesome way.
13 Reasons Why found an audience in Pakistan as well. And rightfully so, too, for suicide has always been an issue in Pakistan. Which is why the question arises – how would the show have panned out if Hannah Baker’s story was set in Pakistan? How would things have been different? Would certain things remain the same? Here are a few possibilities:
1. The entire Justin incident would have blown up way more than it did on 13 Reasons Why
Hannah was on the receiving end of vilification she did not deserve. However, if the entire Justin related fiasco took place in Pakistan, the vilification would have been amplified. Many girls in our society have had their pictures circulated via social media, making them an easy target for bullying and slut-shaming. Had Hannah Baker been Pakistani, the ghost of her minute slip-up would have been immortalized on various online platforms, haunting her from time to time. Pakistan’s 13 Reasons Why would play out in a way where Hannah Baker would have been labeled the permanent slut. Her picture would have been Photoshopped and circulated – a happening that is not too uncommon in Pakistan.
2. Parents would definitely have been involved at some point
The matter would only worsen once the news of the incident would eventually reach the parents involved. As always, the boy would get off easy. Well, a lot easier than Hannah, of course. Hannah would have become the topic of kitty-party gossip sessions. Her honor would have been willingly sacrificed as she would have been thrown under the bus. Justin’s parents would have casually thrown around phrases like “hamaray larke ko phasa rahi hai” to add insult to injury.
3. Pakistani Hannah’s parents would have been a lot less chill
There would be the usual rishta taanas that Hannah would have received, of course. However, once the Justin incident would have unraveled, Hannah’s parents would have doubled down on her in terms of strictness and regulations. Because let’s face it – parents jitnay bhi chill hon – there’s always the ‘log kya kaheinge’ element that makes its way into every conversation. Pakistani Hannah Baker would have experienced the evolution of this oft-repeated phrase that would eventually transform into a death sentence.
4. There would’ve been a probable police raid on Hannah’s Valentine’s Day date with Marcus
Valentine’s Day is one of those events where the moral (and literal) police decide to play a larger role in shutting things down. As a result, Hannah’s date with Marcus would have ended with a lecture about how she lacked the sharam to be out with a boy in the first place. Not only would she have been shamed – this incident would have added fuel to the already ablaze fire that burned down Hannah’s character flame by flame. Because log baatein karte hain, this would have become the topic of conversation – verbally and on every social media platform. Words, whether they are spoken for the world to hear or typed out for the world to see, cannot be taken back. Our Hannah Baker would have to live with those words – unless she decided otherwise.
5. Tyler would still be Tyler
Depending on the amount of power he would have here, he would still exist in the capacity of a stalker. Whether he would be a ferociously dedicated frandshipper or someone who still followed Hannah around to take her pictures and eventually circulate them, he would have done enough to unnerve her thoroughly.
6. Jessica would have been shit talked a whole lot more than she was on the show
Jessica, on 13 Reasons Why itself, had a heartbreaking story-line. However, she was always labelled the ‘good girl’ whereas Hannah was called ‘easy.’ Unfortunately, Jessica would not have been able to escape the rumors, the fake sympathy and the shit talking. Moreover, many would argue that she had been asking for it by being drunk. Her rape would’ve been trivialized and would’ve come down to what she was wearing and who she was with.
7. Jeff would, unfortunately, still be dead
Pakistani Hannah’s conscience would not rest easy here either, as far as Jeff is concerned. We lose people every day to similar accidents. Jeff would’ve still been a casualty.
8. Bryce would have been the exact same
Pakistan is filled to the brim with men like Bryce. In 2016, Pakistan was still among the 10 worst countries when it came to rape. Men like Bryce walk among us. They harass our women and catcall our young girls. Their hands find bodies to use and violate for their perverse, carnal desires. Bryce would be the same here. Even though we await the verdict in Season 2 of the show, chances are that here, he would have easily gotten away with both acts of violation.
9. The chances of there being a Clay Jensen who would avenge Hannah’s suicide in his own way would be scarce
Unfortunately, our society prefers talking about matters, if at all, instead of taking action. If Clay Jensen existed in the form of a secret admirer in the Pakistani version of the story-line – he, too, would have been all talk.
10. The entire Mr. Porter scenario would have panned out the same way
Hannah Baker, prior to her suicide, reached out for help. She clutched desperately onto straws. Mr. Porter happened to be one of them. However, he failed to be the outlet she hoped he would be. When she was done with Mr. Porter, she had absolutely no one to turn to. The situation would’ve panned out the same way, had she gone to the Pakistani equivalent of Mr. Porter. Victim blaming would have taken place. She would not have been provided with any legal guidelines on the matter. As far as any form of psychological aid is concerned – she would have been left in the dark.
As we narrow down these possible parallels and speculate about those around Hannah Baker if she was in our society, the question arises – what about Hannah Baker herself? Would her fate have been any different? Would she have made it if she lived in our society?
11. The answer is simple – she would still be dead
Pakistan’s Hannah Baker would have more than 13 reasons to suicide. The vilification – both, online and in person – would have driven her to the edge. The constant taanas, the slut shaming, the circulation of her pictures and the trauma of rape itself would have done the damage. Finally, with no one to understand her, guide her and help her undo any of the damage, our Hannah Baker, much like the one from 13 Reasons Why, would have slit her wrists by the end of it all.
But what if it could end differently?
Hannah Baker’s story is the story of countless Pakistani girls – many of whom choose to end their lives because they cannot fight back in any way whatsoever. One such story is that of Naila Rind, a student from the University of Jamshoro in Sindh. She ended her life after a private school lecturer incessantly blackmailed her with her pictures and videos. Her story, much like the one depicted in 13 Reasons Why, is one of many. So how can we, as Pakistanis, change the entire narrative of 13 Reasons Why when it comes to the Hannah Bakers and Naila Rinds in our lives?
One of the ways in which we could help is by giving them an outlet to turn to. One such outlet is the Digital Rights Foundation and its Cyber Harassment Helpline.
Digital Rights Foundation launched its Cyber Harassment Helpline on November 28, 2016. This helpline aims to help victims of cyber bullying or online harassment in Pakistan. It is operational from Monday to Friday between 9 a.m to 5 p.m. One could contact them using the details given below, or could simple reach out to their Facebook page as well.
The team is well-equipped in dealing with matters that pertain to cyber law, digital security and any form of psychological guidance that may be needed, with trained professionals providing assistance when the need arises. This assures victims teetering on the edge of a hasty decision that they are not alone. At a time when the Hannah Bakers in our lives are drowning in a sea of confusion and helplessness – why not throw in an entire lifebuoy in the form of Digital Rights Foundation to reel them in?
Mr Porter, in one of the last scenes of the series states this:
What if we didn’t have to lose them in the first place?
Cover Image via Netflix