Friday, April 22, 2011

'My life is in danger': Fears of Pakistani woman gang-raped on orders of village elders as 13 out of 14 men are cleared

Punishment attack ordered because her 12-year-old brother was judged to have offended a clan's honour

(Daily Mail Online UK) - A Pakistani victim of a village council-sanctioned gang rape, who became a symbol of the country's oppressed women, says her life is in danger after the Supreme Court acquitted 13 men accused of the crime.
The ruling leaves just one of the initial 14 suspects in prison.

Mukhtaran Mai's courage in defying centuries-old rural customs of repressing women has made her a role model for many women in Pakistan
Mukhtaran Mai's courage in defying centuries-old rural
customs of repressing women has made her a
role model for many women in Pakistan
Mukhtaran Mai was attacked on the orders of a village council in Punjab province nine years ago as a punishment because her brother - who was 12 at the time - was judged to have offended the honour of a powerful clan by allegedly having an affair with one of its women.

Mai, aged 30, was an illiterate villager at the time but the seamstress defied taboos and shot to global fame by speaking out about her ordeal and taking her attackers to court.

Mai had accused 14 men of being involved in raping her in a stable and in 2002, a court sentenced six of them to death while acquitting the others citing a lack of evidence.

But in an appeal, the Lahore High Court not only upheld the eight acquittals but also overturned five of the six convictions. The death penalty for the sixth man, Abdul Khaliq, was commuted to life in prison.


Mai appealed to the Supreme Court in 2005 but a three-judge bench rejected her appeal on Thursday, said Gohar Ali Shah, a lawyer for Mai.

'I'm disappointed. Why was I made to wait for five years if this decision was to be given?' said a sobbing Mai in a telephone interview from her village in the eastern province of Punjab shortly after the court announced the decision.


'The accused can kill me and my family when they return home,' she added.

'I have lost faith in the courts, and now I am leaving my case to the court of God. I am sure God will punish those who molested me.'

In a further development, the Pakistan Interior Ministry today announced it would provide Mai with security.