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Women rights activists hold placards during a demonstration in Lahore on July 24, 2021, against the brutal killing of Noor Mukadam, the daughter of former Pakistan envoy to South Korea, in the federal capital earlier this week. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Women legislators, both from the ruling party and opposition, unanimously demanded public hanging of all rapists to end curb harassment and abuse of women and children.

The women lawmakers also called for the formation of a parliamentary committee to review reports on rape cases. “We 69 women MNAs demand quick judgement in rape cases and public hanging of rapists,” said Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) women lawmakers backed the demand.

Noor Mukadam Image Credit: Supplied
Noor's last hours
Associated Press reported Noor Mukadam’s last hours were terror-filled. Beaten repeatedly, the 27-year-old jumped from a window but was dragged back, beaten again and finally beheaded. A childhood friend has been charged with her killing.
Mukadam was the daughter of a diplomat, and her status as a member of the country’s elite has shone a spotlight on the relentless and growing violence against women in Pakistan, said prominent rights activist Tahira Abdullah.
But the majority of women who are victims of such violence are among the country’s poor and middle classes, and their deaths are often not reported or, when they are, often ignored.
In Mukadam’s assault, police have charged Zahir Jaffar, the son of a wealthy industrialist, with murder. Initial reports say she was killed after spurning his marriage proposal. It’s not clear whether Jaffar has a lawyer.
The brutality of the assault _ the attacker used so-called brass knuckles _ and the fear that his high social status means he could be freed, galvanized many in Pakistan to speak out. They have held protests and a candlelight vigil and launched a social media campaign #justicefornoor to preempt attempts to use influence and money to whisk the accused out of the country.
In one petition circulating online, the author demanded the country’s judicial system ``hold perpetrators of violence responsible. We demand justice. We demand it swiftly. We demand it for Noor. We demand it for all women.’’
Zarqa Khan, a student who attended a candlelight vigil for Mukadam, bemoaned how religion now pervades so much of life in Pakistan and how today she fears walking alone on the streets.
“I just didn’t feel safe outside anymore,’’ said Khan. ``And that shouldn’t be the scenario.’’

The call for action came after the shocking details of the killing of Noor Mukadam, the 27-year-old daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, stirred anger and protests in the country. Zahir Zakir Jaffer, the alleged killer and a wealthy businessman, also beheaded the woman, according to the police.

The horrifying incident renewed calls for efforts and action from the public to prevent crimes against women. Asma Qadeer, a PTI member of the National Assembly, broke into tears describing the gruesome murder of Noor Mukadam and rising cases of rape of women and children.

PML-N’s Mehnaz Akbar Aziz said the killer of Noor Muqaddam must be hanged in public to deter the crime. Shamim Ara of PPP also demanded capital punishment for the killer of Noor Mukadam. PTI MNA Ghazala Saifi insisted fro speedy trials in rape and murder cases of women, adding that Pakistan cannot achieve progress without ensuring the safety of women who represent half of the country’s population.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said the government had recently passed a law against rape cases, but legislation alone will not stem crime but a change in the mindset is necessary to end such crimes.

In December 2020, the President of Pakistan issued the anti-rape ordinance to set up special courts for speedy trials of the rape cases and issue verdicts within four months but the law is yet to be approved by Parliament.

Domestic violence
* Data collected from domestic violence hotlines across the country showed a 200% increase in domestic violence between January and March last year, according to a Human Rights Watch report released earlier this year.
* The numbers were even worse after March, when COVID-19 lockdowns began, according to the report.
* In 2020, Pakistan was near the bottom of the World Economic Forum's global gender index, coming in at 153 of 156 countries, ahead of only Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, which held the last spot despite billions of dollars spent and 20 years of international attention on gender issues there.
* Many of the attacks in Pakistan are so-called honour killings, where the perpetrator is a brother, father or other male relative.
* Each year, more than 1,000 women are killed in this way, many of them unreported, say human rights workers. --AP