The gruesome murder of Noor Mukadam has ignited calls for the protection of women on social media forums. The 27-year-old daughter of an ex-diplomat was found beheaded in the murderer’s house in Islamabad F-7/4 on Tuesday, 20th July. According to reports, the killer tortured her body and then proceeded to behead her. Police apprehended the killer and recovered a gun, a knife, and a knuckleduster from the scene of the crime but could not find his cellphone. The man involved in the Noor Mukadam murder case is identified as Zahir Jaffar, who was a mental health therapist. He worked for his family business related to construction and also a mental health clinic, Therapy Works which is now facing sealing orders. The parents of the killer have also been arrested on the charges of hiding the evidence. Zahir will face trial under section 302 (murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on 26th July.
Noor Mukadam Murder Case – What We Know so Far?
Police investigation revealed that the killer and the deceased were friends. On the day of her death, Noor called her parents and said that she was going to Lahore with her friends and would come back in a couple of days. However, she remained in Islamabad in the killer’s house till 10 pm, when the police informed her father about what happened to his daughter. The investigation also found out that Zahir was not under the influence of drugs and committed this heinous act in his full senses. The police concluded that the killer took revenge on Noor for breaking up with him. He was a dual nationality holder for which Islamabad IG requested the interior minister to add his name to the Exit Control List (ECL).
The father of Noor, Shaukat Mukadam served as Pakistan’s ambassador to South Korea and Kazakhstan during 2013-2020. He explicitly stated that he would “not spare anyone” if Pakistan failed to deliver justice again. Shockingly, it is the 5th reported case of femicide in Pakistan only in 1 month (July). Yet some behavior on social media, especially by men was highly worrisome and in need of great rectification. Such reaction only signals that the majority of the country has still not learned anything from the growing amount of violence against women. This case in particular exposes a lot of weaknesses in the Pakistani system and its people.
Victim Blaming is Back
The second misfortune victim faces after the crime is the judgmental mind of Pakistanis. Somehow it is hard for some men to comprehend that a woman can have a life of her own and can go or do anything she wants. The least they can do is make sure they’re not the one getting in her way but they try their best to make her feel uncomfortable, angry, and ashamed of being a woman. A similar thing happened with the Noor Mukadam murder case as insolent boys on social media hurled abusive remarks about the victim, Their inbred hatred for women caused them to shut out the killer completely and pushed questions like “What was Noor doing at Zahir’s house”. It’s not about what a woman was doing at a man’s house, it’s about how the man hosted her.
Last year when a woman was raped on a motorway after being stranded there with her kids, a top-level police official commented that it was the woman’s fault to travel alone at night.
Questionable Mental Health Training in Pakistan
Reportedly, there was an army of the household staff on the crime scene but nobody did anything to the victim. Her friends claimed that Noor was such a soft-spoken and kind-hearted person, her voice couldn’t have reached anyone even if she screamed. Zahir on the other hand was an objectionable person. Noor’s friend Zahira Haider testified that she knew him and Noor since childhood and he used to display erratic behavior when they were young. She showed messages from 2013 where Zahir asked for nudes from Zahira and threatened her to cause bodily harm. It raises serious questions on the system that provided a lunatic like Zahir with a license to practice mental therapy on people. It means there is no check and balance on these mental health businesses and their phony doctors can take advantage of naïve patients whenever they like.
The fake business was feeding lies to its customers from the beginning by claiming that it was accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Folks did some digging and found out that Therapy Works was not associated with BACP in any way. The British company made things further clear by responding.
Incidents like these can forever damage the credibility of certified practitioners, who are actually ethical. It also discourages people to seek or trust any mental health counseling. There is a dire need to check more counselors in Pakistan who may have been looting their clients based on fake accreditations. It may save another Noor Mukadam murder case from happening.
Is International Citizenship a Get Out of Jail Free Card?
According to reports, more than 100 ambassadors demanded the government to add the killer in ECL because he could have escaped the country using his dual nationality. The murderer had a Pakistani and an American passport. The Association of Ambassadors was worried that his family influence and power were enough for sneaking him out of the country.
They also urged the prosecutor to obtain all of the previous medical and criminal records of Zahir, even from the UK and the US. Reportedly, he had been previously deported from the UK due to charges of rape. According to reports, the accused had already booked a flight for 21st July which led police to establish that he premeditated the murder.
What Were the Plans of Killer’s Family?
The Noor Mukadam murder case also teaches how families continue to be accomplices in their male children’s crimes. When a girl makes a boyfriend, she becomes an infidel and a stain on the entire family but somehow the man is still worth saving even after killing someone in cold blood. This is a country where one family murdered their own daughter, Qandeel Baloch for being a model, and another desperately tried to save their murderous son. Then they had the audacity to claim that their son was mentally sick. Of course, he was sick enough to actually behead someone so he had to be a patient rather than a therapist.
The parents of the murderer maintained that their son should be excused due to his mental instability. Zahir’s family also allegedly tried to bribe the police and threaten the victim’s family. However, Noor’s family is equally strong and will keep pursuing the case in court. It is indeed the battle between two behemoth families but something good can still come out of it. Public hopes that there could be some historic laws specifically for the protection of women.
Abuser Can Be Anyone
Finally, the Noor Mukadam murder case highlights the sad fact that men do not deserve to be in the company of a woman. As long as there are no speedy trials and exemplary punishments, women remain vulnerable. Literally, any man can be an abuser which makes it unsafe for women to be in their company. A culprit always has the upper hand due to patriarchy and a flawed legal system. It is clear from this case that men who take advantage of that must be considered dangerous.
Women have to be extra careful while dealing with men because rising violence against women has stressed them out. This is why there was a need for Women Protection Bill which was so vehemently rejected by the right-wing political parties, religious clergy, and the legal fraternity. The resistance to such a bill indicates the collective mentality of Pakistani officials. They indirectly helped the criminal men to keep violating women’s rights by opposing the bill in 2016. It offered protections like confidential mediation and restraining orders which fell short against male insecurities.
According to a report by Special Monitoring Unit (SMU), around 60 women face violence in the Punjab region on daily basis. Yet, the government and its supporters have blamed women for whatever men do to them. Recently, PM Imran Khan called huge criticism not only from the public but also from her ex-wife for saying that women’s dressing is one of the causes of rapes in Pakistan.
The gruesome incident of Noor Mukadam’s murder requires that authorities take swift action to deliver justice and to push things in a direction that helps the women who face persecution for being the marginalized faction in society.