A Legal Victory for Rape Victim in Pakistan

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Legal Victory for Rape Victim in Pakistan

Good news from Pakistan for women and human rights:
Pakistan's Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to reopen an inquiry into the high-profile case of Mukthar Mai, an unlettered laborer's daughter from southern Punjab province who allegedly was gang-raped on the orders of a tribal council in 2002.

The court decision overturned a judgment by the Lahore High Court, issued in March, that threw out the convictions of five of the men accused of involvement in the rape and commuted the death sentence of a sixth.

The Supreme Court also ordered the re-arrest of 13 of the original suspects in the case. The high court's decision, following two days of hearings, was a victory for Mai, 32, whose case has prompted an outpouring of international sympathy and also become a focal point for concern about violence against women in Pakistan.

The court will now review the evidence and make its own determination as to the guilt or innocence of the accused ... Pakistan has been under intense international pressure to punish those involved in the alleged rape and recently came under renewed criticism when General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, barred Mai from traveling to the United States on grounds that she might project a "bad image" of Pakistan.

... In an episode that has become a focal point for concerns about violence against women in Pakistan, Mai was attacked in Meerwala, her village in southern Punjab province. The council allegedly ordered the rape to settle a score with Mai's brother, 13, who had been accused of an improper relationship with the sister of one of those accused.
And by attempting to excuse or whitewash violence against women, Gen. Musharraf, you do more to give your country a "bad image" than any woman could ever do.

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