In 2002 a Pakistani woman named Mukhtaran Mai gang raped. That is awful enough, but what was truly outrageous was that her rape was ordered by a local court as a punishment for an alleged transgression by her brother. Mukhtaran Mai bravely went public with her ordeal, and international journalists and human rights groups seized onto her case. Eventually, that lead to criminal charges against the men accused of raping her. Justice at last, right? Wrong.
Five men accused of gang-raping a Pakistani woman in 2002 under orders from a village council have been acquitted by the supreme court of the country, their lawyer says.
Abdul Khalique, the sixth suspect in the case, had his life sentence upheld, Malik Saleem, the defence lawyer, said on Thursday.
The rape of Mukhtaran Mai in 2002 drew international attention after she decided to speak out about her ordeal, defying Pakistani norms.
She alleged that she had been gang-raped on the orders of a village council in the name of “honour” in Muzaffargarh district. The gang-rape was to be punishment because her brother – who was 12 years old at the time – had been judged to have offended the “honour” of a powerful clan by allegedly having an affair with one of its women…
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights group, expressed dismay at the court’s decision, saying that the attack on Mai had taken place “in full public view and the perpetrators were publically identified”.
“Today’s verdict by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the Mukhtaran Mai case reflects poorly on the Supreme Court,” Ali Dayan Hasan, HRW’s South Asia researcher, said.
Hasan said that HRW was particularly concerned about Mai’s safety, and has called on the government to ensure her protection.
Also, via The Age: “The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded 791 honour killings of women in 2010; at least 26 of the women were raped or gang-raped before being killed.”
If you are rightly outraged by this, check out StopHonorKillings to find ways to help women caught in this culture of violence.