A bitter sweet victory.
40 year old Mukhtar Mai has given birth to a baby boy a decade on after being gang raped on the orders of a local council after it was found that her then 12 year old brother had engaged in illicit relations with a woman from a rival clan.
Rising to prominence for her stand on the oppression of women, Mai went on to be the face of a movement calling for equal rights for women. Although overjoyed by her son’s birth, the father being a local police officer (the irony is too palpable) despite the calamity she has borne Maj still holds the view that what she suffered back then could just as easily happen today- which doesn’t say much for how women in the region are perceived or their susceptibility to being held captive to mores that conflict with that of individual women’s rights.
At the time of the punishment instead of being shunned by her family as is custom in such ‘honor crimes,’ Mai was instead embraced by her family and her cause taken to authorities.
What then followed was a see saw of pursued litigation to have the 14 men (yes 14…) who raped her brought to justice, with 6 of the perpetrating men sentenced to death, with the other 8 men acquitted. Subsequent appeals saw the death order struck down, with five of the six acquitted and converted the death sentence to one of the main accused to life imprisonment. Further appeals to the highest courts maintained the other suspects impunity.
Ultimately one can only question why such honor crimes are still in effect and as Mai states just as likely to occur today as they did back then. As much as the review of the incident was a kind of victory for this one woman one must wonder to what degree women in strict Muslim societies are spared such malevolent mistreatment at the hands of their community…?