I Live In The Neighbourhood Where Noor Mukadam Was Killed. Her Murder Has Left Me Sleepless
Noor Mukadam’s brutal murder has made nationwide headlines as #JusticeForNoor continues trending on social media. The daughter of former ambassador Shaukat Mukadam was proclaimed dead on July 20 in Islamabad’s upscale F-7/4 sector.
The reported murderer, Zahir Jaffer, exhibited psychiatric problems, violent tendencies and drug abuse, for which he was undergoing counselling at ‘Therapy Works’ — where Zahir later started conducting sessions himself. Noor was murdered in cold blood while staying at her long-time friend Zahir’s apartment.
Noor cried for help while she was being stabbed, shot and then beheaded. Her pain is unfathomable. What makes it even more traumatising is that the murderer was a certified psychotherapist, showcasing the unreliability of our institutes. Furthermore, Zahir being Noor’s childhood friend shows that a Pakistani female isn’t even safe with her closest acquaintances.
I belong to the same social class and age group as Noor. I live in the locality where she was killed. The incident has left me sleepless. However, I am extremely fortunate that I have been brought up in an open-minded, educated, sector where gender equality is given utmost importance.
As an advocate for social uplift and women empowerment, my work entails staying updated with human injustices rampant in our society. Despite the surge in the atrocities committed against women in Pakistan – rape, child marriages, domestic violence and acid attacks, to name a few — I have remained strong and fearless.
Until Noor’s murder.
Women’s rights is a crucial societal issue that remains sidelined by the authorities, which are yet to take it upon themselves to highlight female plight and address it. We need to educate women to remain perpetually vigilant and aware of their surroundings. They must learn self-defence techniques, martial arts, kickboxing, and should be equipped with safety gear like pepper sprays, tasers, pocket knives, whistle etc. YouTube videos can provide useful lessons.
While going out, it is pertinent to share our whereabouts with someone trustworthy. All safety precautions should be taken especially alone, after dark and in male-crowded areas. But most importantly, it is high time we focused on the moral upbringing of boys. Parents and teachers must play their role to make them realise the radical implications of their casual attitudes and curb all means of harassment: male gaze, catcalls, body-shaming and stalking.
Also, it needs to be acknowledged that mental health — still a taboo subject — is an actual issue, which just like physical health needs proper treatment. Drug users, alcoholics and psychiatric patients need rehabilitation, otherwise there are ramifications.
Social media has once again been the most efficient platform for the oppressed to raise their voice. While the Jaffers have silenced the mainstream media, the masses on social media are all going strong. I, for one, will not settle down until Zahir is brought to book.
The writer holds BSc in Politics and International Relations from University of London. She has interned at the National Assembly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and South Asian Strategic Stability Institute.