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#JusticeforNoor: Violence Against Women Is a Global Issue

Many have marched over the last week holding signs and protesting the brutal murder of Noor Muqaddam, 27, the daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, who was known for her sweet and loving personality and kindness to people and animals.  The police have charged Zahir Jaffer with the murder, a U.S. national, and son of one of Pakistan’s wealthiest families.

Reports state that the two knew each other, and that Jaffer lured Muqaddam to his home, held her there for two days, and then murdered her. The Jaffer family has put out full-page newspaper ads calling for justice and distancing themselves from the murder. Jaffer had previously been deported from Britain for involvement in a rape and sexual harassment case. Muqaddam’s father has prosecutors asking for the maximum penalty for the crime.

There are reports that he has confessed to the crime to police; however there are questions if the situation at the crime scene was handled correctly, and whether there will be sufficient forensic evidence for a conviction.

Rates of violence against women in Pakistan reflect the global pandemic of violence against women, and like many other places in the world, often little is done to prosecute or hold the perpetrators accountable.  The issue of femicide is being addressed by women’s rights groups internationally, but progress has been slow.

In an article on Dawn, Arife Noor stated this could be the “watershed moment” we are waiting for to change the lack of accountability over the violence against women both in Pakistan and other places in the world.

Others wrote for the Guardian, BBC in Urdu, and a wide variety of media sources discussing the gender-based epidemic and the need for action.

In his recent comments on the prosecution of Jaffer, PM Imran Khan said that justice will be served.

It is noticeable that this case of intimate partner violence comes to the forefront in a time when the United States is experiencing the extended pandemic of violence against women (VAW), including particularly the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.  In the face of this, and the widespread increase in domestic violence because of COVID, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is up and needs bipartisan support to pass Congress.  Biden has called for the rapid advancement of the legislation, but the legislation has languished in Washington without passing, for years at this point.

There are calls for increases in legislation in Pakistan against domestic violence as well.  However, the challenges of passing legislation are many, and as the case of legislation in the U.S. clear, it is a global problem, not exclusive to Pakistan or South Asia.

Activists in Canada are also calling for an increase in legislative and legal efforts to address violence against women.

Social media has seen the trending of the hashtag #justicefornoor, and marches and vigils have been held around the world.  Some people have expressed their hopes that justice will be seen. It is clear that the crisis of domestic violence and violence against women needs as much attention as we can bring to it, both in Pakistan, in North America, and around the world.

Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God.