A Pakistani woman raped in 2002 supposedly for a crime committed by her brother recently saw her rapists acquitted but, on orders of Premier Shaukat Aziz, the BBC reports, the men have been rearrested.
But according to rural Pakistan’s strict Islamic code, she was forever “dishonored.” The local Mastoi clan, which dominates the village council, expected her to keep her mouth shut or simply disappear. Her own Gujar clan refused to support her. …
She’s still fighting. Although an anti-terrorist court convicted and sentenced to death six of the 14 men initially charged with the rape in 2002, an appeals court overturned the sentences last month. [Then] the Federal Sharia Court, which has unclear jurisdiction, nullified both verdicts… [and] the Supreme Court announced plans to retry the case, and last week released four of the attackers on bail [before their rearrest]. “I’m afraid I’m returning to the same sense of insecurity I felt three years ago,” said Mai, 32, when she first heard the men were out of jail. “I can’t forget what happened; it keeps haunting me.”
Mai’s courage and actions are exceptionally inspiring. So too is the generosity of contributors, including the Canadian government:
“The U.S. civil-rights campaign had Rosa Parks, who helped to spark an entire movement,” says Sherry Rehman, a Pakistani activist and opposition member of Parliament. “We have Mukhtar Mai.”
When the four convicted rapists briefly returned to Mai’s village last week, members of the Mastoi clan celebrated. But the village is a changed place. In an unprecedented display of independence, several dozen local women filed into Mai’s dusty compound as nervous and perplexed local men looked on. … The women sat on rope beds next to Mai’s cow, goat and two buffaloes. They talked about women’s rights. “I’ve tried to do something positive to bring about change,” says Mai. “That gives me satisfaction.”
The BBC reports that 30 policeman now protect Ms. Mai, and that she seeks the ultimate retribution:
Thirty policemen were deployed to the village on Wednesday to provide security.
Ms Mai said on Thursday: “To me, justice means those who raped me should die by hanging.”
She said she was carrying on the fight “because I know it will be a lesson for other people if those who raped me are hanged”.
Human Rights Watch weighs in:
Precisely because of international attention there is still hope – recent court decisions and jurisdictional confusion notwithstanding – that Mukhtar Mai’s rapists will be brought to justice.
And dare I say that let’s hope someday justice will not mean the death penalty for the rapists.