What to question? the morality of the murderer or morality of the victim?

By Agha Iqrar Haroon


The gruesome beheading of Noor Mukadam has triggered discussions having different connotations and denotations linked with the crime against women. This murder has instigated multipronged debates and different schools of thought are expressing their opinions and judgments. Since the case is in court, therefore, commenting on the accused’s fate and his action is beyond my writing.

Two main points are under discussion mostly— Noor was killed because she was allegedly a partner of the killer and her morality parameters are responsible for her murder. The second most discussed point is that murder is murder irrespective of motives and causes behind the murder, circumstances before the murder, and physical state of the victim and accused (influence of any drug etc).

Unfortunately to say that homicide cases are always checked and debated the motive and cause behind the murder, circumstances before the murder, and physical state of the victim and accused (influence of any drug etc) during the hearing of the case. Criminal jurisprudence cannot work without questioning all issues including motive, causes behind the murder, circumstances when the murder was committed, and what was the physical state of the victim and accused.

I started my career as a lower Court Reporter and then also worked as a Crime Reporter and the total span of dealing with Crime related reporting is around 10 years. Session Courts are the first window for justice in homicide cases. Cases of Crime against Persons like rape, attempted rape, etc also first come to Session Courts. I started Reporting in 1988 when there was no internet, no social media, Indian and Pakistani television industries were still state-owned so the private sector in television drama or news was not there. State-owned Indian and Pakistan so-called electronic media had been following social norms and state rules regarding morality, norms, and customs.  Video Cassette Recording (VCR) culture was on rising and was tagged as responsible for increasing heinous crimes like rape, attempted rape, female abduction, etc.

In the 80s and early 90s, I used to cover court proceedings of Session Courts of Lahore and reported at least two cases a day about murders where women were victims, rape, attempted rape, female abduction, or sodomizing with children. In private discussions, judicial officials were tagging VCR culture responsible for rising sexual crimes.

I had reported so horrific cases that I did not wish to remember as fathers arrested for rapping their daughters (sometimes more than one daughter at the same time), brothers raping their sisters and even sons were under trial for raping their mothers. In murder cases, causes of female murders included the same culture—incest or honoring killings or murder in rage. Many girls, women were killed either to contest rape attempts from their relatives including blood relations, or were killed to hide a male-generated crime of physical relations with their female relatives including blood relatives.

In Noor Muqadam case, a group of people is of the view that Noor was killed because she was allegedly having relations with the accused without marriage or she was allegedly involved in immoral activities therefore she was killed. Only those girls or women are killed who allegedly have a lifestyle that is contrary to the social and religious norms of their societies? Only those girls or women are raped who take risk of living or inviting their male acquaintances in privacy?

This is also said that Noor was killed because she was allegedly not following religious norms. Does religion allow any individual to kill anybody? Does rape acceptable in any religion. If one stakeholder was not following religious norms so what about the second stakeholder— the killer? There is no doubt that following religious norms provide a safer and secure society. If a female victim is following religious norms but a male accused is not following religious norms then rape can take place, attempted rape can happen and the male accused can kill a woman.

Murdering wives is not a piece of big news in South Asian society. Our media gives page two or page three for such stories. But the same media gives back pages of newspapers when a boyfriend kills his girlfriend.

If having illegitimate relations is the only reason for killing a woman then why faithful wives are beheaded and killed? Are crimes against women linked with the morality of the victim (women)? or with the action of male killers?

Domestic violence against women is another chapter to read to understand that how anger and rage physically and psychologically torture those girls or women who live according to all given parameters of their societies.

One report of the rights group War on Rape (WAR) claimed that most family members are involved in the rapes and 82% of rape perpetrators in Pakistan are family members of the victims, such as that include fathers, brothers, grandfathers, and uncles. This figure can be contested and looks exaggerated but factors are well-documented facts that male family members are involved in most cases of rape. On one side of the picture, girls are women who are victims of rapes mostly from relatives, and on the other side of the picture, they are killed by their relatives under the honor killing narrative.

In the report prepared by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 430 cases of honour killings were reported in Pakistan during 2020. Of these, 363 were women and 148 happened to be men.

There are at least 11 rape cases reported in Pakistan every day with over 22,000 rape cases reported to police across the country in the last six years, according to official statistics. These statistics were obtained from the Police, Law, and Justice Commission of Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Women’s Foundation, and provincial welfare agencies. The report also indicates that only 41% of rape cases are reported to the police due to social pressures and loopholes in the law and order system.

According to official data, 18,609 rape cases were registered in Punjab during the last six years, 1,873 in Sindh, 1,183 in KP, 129 in Balochistan, 210 in Islamabad. Thirty-one cases were registered in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in which no accused was convicted.

The real issue is not the morality of the victim rather the morality of the accused who actually commits a homicide crime. A society that questions the morality of the victim is actually encouraging a new murderer to commit another murder and let the society discusses who was wrong? the cadaver or the killer?


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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