Pakistan court sentences man to death for beheading daughter of former diplomat for spurning marriage offer

Noor Muqaddam’s murder spurred calls from women’s rights activists to pass laws to fine or imprison domestic abusers

Maroosha Muzaffar
Friday 25 February 2022 12:13 GMT
Zahir Jaffer had raped Noor Muqaddam and then beheaded her on 20 July last year
Zahir Jaffer had raped Noor Muqaddam and then beheaded her on 20 July last year (Screengrab / YouTube /

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A Pakistani court has sentenced a man to death for beating, raping and beheading a 27-year-year woman who refused his offer of marriage.

Noor Muqaddam was the daughter of former Pakistani diplomat Shaukat Muqaddam. Her family expressed satisfaction over the verdict.

On 20 July 2021, the convict Zahir Jaffer, who is the son of one of Pakistan’s richest families, beat, raped and beheaded her because she had turned down his marriage proposal.

Jaffer, 30, had held her hostage in his family home in capital Islamabad for two days after she had refused to marry him.

After the news of her beheading became public, there was a massive outcry in Pakistan.

Local reports said the family was visibly emotional when the judge read out the verdict in a packed courtroom. Two employees from the Jaffer household were also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for abetment of murder.

His parents, however, have been acquitted.

Jaffer is a US national of Pakistani origin.

Muqaddam’s father, however, pledged to challenge their acquittal.

“I am happy that justice has been served,” Mr Muqaddam told reporters outside the courtroom.

The case made headlines across the country and several women’s rights activists in Pakistan had launched protests to demand justice.

In the aftermath of the verdict by the judge, there were several candlelight vigils in Muqaddam’s memory.

Several women’s rights groups also came out in the streets to celebrate the verdict.

According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Human Rights, that cited data from the country’s 2017-18 Demographic and Health Survey, around 28 per cent of Pakistani women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

Activists in the country have used Muqaddam’s death to renew calls for the country’s parliament to pass laws that would fine or imprison domestic abusers.

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