Noor's killer has been found guilty but society continues to get off scot-free for the way it treats women

Noor's killer has been found guilty but society continues to get off scot-free for the way it treats women

When will Noor Mukadam and all the other women like her get apologies for society's slander and character assassination?
25 Feb, 2022

Today, Pakistan's women are somewhat at ease after a court declared Zahir Jaffer guilty of killing Noor Mukadam.

We say somewhat because as they reflect on the horrific murder and the subsequent trial of her killer, they remember more than the verdict announced yesterday; they also recall the vitriol and mudslinging over the last seven months.

Today, when women in Pakistan want justice for acts of violence committed against them, they will remember what Noor Mukadam's family went through. What her parents had to hear in the name of the culprit's defence. What her sister had to read on social media. What her brother heard people say about her on TV.

Noor Mukadam drew a lot of support, but she also invoked the questionable morals of the Pakistani internet, who love to speculate, theorise and slander. "Why did she go to his house? Why did she lie to her parents? Why did she know him? Why did she associate with men?"

The real question of why did he kill her, that too in such a brazen and brutal way, was often buried beneath these queries.

Cases like Noor's can stir society's morals in the worst possible way. Instead of the obvious takeaway that women need safer spaces and be allowed the right to live, society attacks the woman's character. The victim, it says, must be at fault for what happened to her, regardless of the fact that she was a victim.

"She allowed herself to become a victim because of her choices."

But what of the perpetrator's choices that led him to kill and rape? That's left to the court of law. A women's trial starts much before, in the eyes of the public.

Society's conscience only kicks in once a woman is perceived to have done something 'wrong'.

That is what happened with Noor Mukadam, Qandeel Baloch, the motorway rape survivor, the Minar-e-Pakistan assault survivor and countless others. Every action or word they have ever spoken is highlighted, dissected and then assigned nefarious (and often false) motives. Their pictures and videos are distributed freely, their right to privacy gone in a heartbeat. Their lives become fodder for public consumption and in the process, everyone seems to forget that they're human.

Our society's hatred of women is glaringly obvious, especially when it continually pushes the narrative that the woman somehow brought violence upon herself. Our leaders have perpetuated this stance and so have those wearing the uniform who are supposed to protect, not attack.

Then there are the social media warriors — men and women — who want to lecture the families on what they should have done "to prevent the murder/rape/kidnapping" as opposed to saying "we're sorry for your loss/your pain/this society". Ripping apart her character, as if she were a fictional creation in a novel or TV show, has more of an impact than those faceless online commenters realise. It tells the women of Pakistan that if they report violence, they and their families will go through the same ordeal.

There is a lot wrong with a society that turns so hatefully on these women and their families for daring to report violence against them.

With the verdict in, we can only hope it brings some peace to Noor's family and loves ones, who had to endure TV channels shamelessly running the CCTV footage of her trying to escape her captor or social media digging out photos and videos from her past to prove that she knew Zahir.

The victory is marred with the name calling, the character assassination and abuse that Noor and countless others like her have had to undergo. Noor may be gone, but her family and friends had to listen to lies, rumours and falsehoods about her. So did the rest of the women in Pakistan. And for them, it bears a warning — seek justice at the risk of having your life torn apart.


Raja Rental Feb 25, 2022 12:31pm
Congratulations women, you fought hard and won.
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Feb 25, 2022 12:32pm
Women must be treated equally and equitably in all countries of the world in general and South Asian nations in particular.
Fastrack Feb 25, 2022 01:05pm
Lesson No 1: Two wrong never make a right.
mudas777 Feb 25, 2022 01:14pm
When powerful can buy off the system then what's the hope of getting any one justice regardless of women or any one else. Your CEO has not embezzled the land and have gone scott free so less said the better?
Fahad Feb 25, 2022 01:19pm
Are you serious, if this case has output, its not because our courts starts doing justice, its only because power full parties are involved, how many cases still are pending with courts with no results, and poor people are suffering because of that.
Slowtrack Feb 25, 2022 01:34pm
This is the most important takeaway from this case. People need to change themselves and their attitude towards women to see enduring change. Otherwise hollow appeals for justice mean little to nothing.
Shabbir Feb 25, 2022 01:56pm
So happy to to see that finally justice is served on this case!
Syed A. Mateen Feb 25, 2022 01:58pm
I am grieved to note that women in our society are treated as 2nd class human beings which is a totally wrong perception of men. Women are seen working in the cities as well as in the fields of villages or whether it is an office, house, factory but they are not treated equally to the men. Despite the fact that men needs the help of women at every step and without the help of the women men can't do any thing, despite this men do not appreciate the hard work of the women. What we need is to seriously start thinking that women are part of our lives and they should be treated equally. By paying respect to the women the respect of men will not decrease, rather men will get equal respect by the women. Let's not forget that a woman is also a mother, wife, daughter or sister but all these relations are respectful in the society then why men treat women inenqually? My highest respects and regards to all the women who are working day and night for the betterment of their families.
salah ahmed Feb 25, 2022 02:01pm
we need to empower women by giving them financial independence ,like in Bangldesh, then only will they be able to stand up to male chauvinists.
M. Saeed Feb 25, 2022 03:14pm
This case is only pass it's first stage. There are several stages before the final stage of Presidential pardon. Besides, one must not forget that, PM Imran Khan had taken his personal responsibility, to observe the progress of the case.
Syed Irfan Feb 25, 2022 10:17pm
So true analysis.
imran_m Feb 25, 2022 11:22pm
Perhaps our society can stop hoping to marry in higher socio-economic classes.
Hamid Feb 25, 2022 11:53pm
Sorry but society will always ask questions they do not fully understand. That's why when one goes to a funeral you will always be asked questions of why they did this instead of that. Its a human trait.
Nads Feb 26, 2022 03:25am
So, so sad, many years ago I was staying at the foreign office hostel, a little girl used to knock on my door and wanted to play with me she had a small angelic face , sparkly brown eyes and wavy brown hair. I would make little paper dolls for her and she would jump up and down, I don’t know what her name was…maybe it was Noor..she would be as old as Noor today, point is everyone has a little noor or light in them , the light of life.. no one has the right to take away that light and the right to life.
Yawar Feb 26, 2022 05:06am
Justice, as in this case, will happen when our judges feel secure
Yawar Feb 26, 2022 05:15am
When the majority of the population considers Zahir Jaffer as warranting the death penalty, and there are no powerful forces within the country that are backing him, then yes, justice can be served. However, this situation does not occur in most crimes against women, such as honor killings.
M. Emad Feb 26, 2022 08:55am
Pakistan should abolish capital punishment.
Nayyar Feb 26, 2022 11:25am
It’s a very realistic analysis. If the case did not involve Mr. Mukaddum then the killer would be sitting elsewhere and making fun of our investigating authorities and judicial system.
time_travel Feb 26, 2022 11:40am
Need more work to change laws to allow women to live with more freedom in Pakistan.
Nadeem Feb 26, 2022 06:42pm
@Raja Rental there are good men too and they fight hard too. We must work/fight together not as men or women or rich and poor.
Laila Feb 28, 2022 03:07pm
Sentencing doesn't mean execution. I will reserve my optimism for the day that the killer is actually execute. I doubt that will happen. Like those before him he too will walk free. Just wait and see. The system is just waiting for the focus to shift.