he story of Mukhtar Mai is for generations to know. She’s the epitome of courage. Her long battle to fight for justice gives us the strength to stand for ourselves amidst the challenges. Today, in this blog, we will share her story in brief to applause her brave spirit and know her journey.
Mukhtaran Bibi belongs to a village named Meerwala in the Muzaffargarh district of Punjab, Pakistan. She is known as Mukhtar Mai all over the world for her bravery. She has done a lot to inspire women to fight for their rights. Mukhtar is now a human rights activist in Pakistan who is doing her best to take women out of their misery. She has developed an organization with the sole purpose to aware women of their rights. But do you know how it all started?
It all started in 2002 when Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped by 4 men while the 10 men were present there watching the whole incident live. There was a tribal conflict between the Mastoi Baloch clan who were wealthier than Mai’s Tatla clan.
Mastoi men had some unresolved issues with Shakoor, 12 years old Mukhtar Mai’s brother. They abducted her brother and accused him to have illicit relations with a woman of the Mastoi tribe named Naseem. The tribe council (Panchayat) dealt with the case and asked Shakoor to marry Naseem. Also, they ordered Shakoor’s sister (Mukhtar Mai) to marry a Mastoi man. However, the Mastoi tribe rejected the decision of Panchayat and claimed that the punishment of adultery is adultery and there is no other way of justice.
The tribe council called Mukhtar Mai to the council to resolve the issue by apologizing for her brother’s deeds. However, as soon as Mai arrived, 4 Mastoi men dragged her to a nearby hut and gang-raped her in front of 10 additional men. They were so unkind to her as they paraded her nude through the streets of the village. The tribe was brutal enough and called their shameless act “honor revenge”.
What happened after the incident?
After this incident, locals of the village were quite confident that Mai would never raise her voice against this brutal act. Instead, they assumed that she would commit suicide as every girl in Pakistan is supposed to die in the name of honor. However, Mukhtar Mai was not an ordinary girl. She decided to face the situation with utmost bravery. She aimed to take the criminals to court and get them punished so that no other girl will have to face what she had faced.
So, the incident became the headlines in Pakistan media. The media raised the issue and by July, BBC published the whole story in their magazine.
In 2002, the Anti-Terror court at Dera Ghazi Khan sentenced the people who were involved in the rape of Mukhtar Mai to death. However, the Mastoi men continued to threaten the tribe of Mukhtar Mai. On September 1st, 2002, six men were sentenced to death while eight were released.
On September 3rd, 2002 Mukhtar Mai filed an appeal against the acquittal of eight men in the Multan bench of Lahore high court. She took this step as she was brave enough to set an example of being a courageous woman.
The government of Pakistan gave her compensation money of PKR 500,000. Also, she received donations from all around the world. Mukhtar Mai used this amount to open two schools in the local area to educate girls. These were the first-ever schools opened in Meerwala for girls. She started to work on the health, security, and other basic rights of women in her region. She wanted the girls to be educated enough about their basic rights.
On 3rd March, the reversal of the trial court judgment by Lahore high court took place. The high court called the evidence to be insufficient and therefore, ordered to release of 5 out of 6 men who were prior sentenced to death. Mukhtaran appealed to the court not to release those men.
However, Advocate Malik Mohammad Saleem was against Mukhtar Mai in court. He won the case and rapists were released without any punishment as they were not found guilty by the court.
If there was any other girl, she would have given up in front of the injustice and brutality. But it was Mukhtar Mai who kept on appealing for justice.
On 11 March, the Federal Shariah court announced to dismiss the decision of the high court and decided to analyze the case according to Islamic Hudood laws. However, within three days, the Supreme Court announced that the Federal Shariah Court has no right to challenge the decision of the High court. In this way, the case was taken to the Supreme court for further proceedings.
Mukhtar Mai Case Supreme Court
On June 6, 2005, the Supreme court asked the accused men to submit a certain amount of money. However, they were unable to pay the required amount and therefore remained in jail. Their acquittal was appealed in the court. However, 14 days later, all fourteen men were arrested, and their acquittal was suspended by the supreme court.
On December 11, 2008, Mukhtar Mai received a message from Federal Minister to take her case back. However, Mukhtar Mai was not afraid of any Minister and therefore, she remained persistent on her decision.
Later, on 21st April 2011, 5 of the 14 arrested men were released by the supreme court and Mukhtar Mai was accused to claim false allegations about them. However, Mukhtar Mai contacted his lawyer to file a petition against this hearing. The decision of the Supreme Court was disappointing for all the human rights activists in Pakistan.
Mukhtar Mai Welfare Work
Not only did she fight for her justice, but also the rights of all women. She started educating girls and her work resulted in the development of Mukhtar Mai’s Women Welfare Organization (MMWWO). She aimed at raising her voice for women’s rights and educating young girls. Her organization urged girls to join school rather than go to work or marry before time. Also, the organization is doing its best to help people who are subjected to injustice and violence in society.
Her organization faced serious threats from the federal government. The ministers pressurized the organization to stop their work in the local region. However, Mukhtar Mai is a lady with strong determination. She faced all the challenges bravely and continued to work for the betterment of people, especially women.
Mukhtar Mai’s Personal Life
Wondering where is Mukhtaran Mai now? She is still working for human rights and welfare. Coming towards her personal life, she was a mother of five children. However, she was divorced after which she got married to a police constable in 2009. After her second wedding, Mukhtaran Mai gave birth to a baby boy. Mukhtaran Mai’s son was born in 2011.
In an interview with BBC, she shared that she struggled a lot for justice. She said that it was not difficult for her to leave the country and forget the past ordeals. But she decided to stay here and fight to get justice.
To sum it up
In 2006 Mukhtar Mai documentary was made by Mohammad Naqvi under the title “Shame”. She received innumerable awards from different countries in the world. Her autobiography is famous worldwide for her bravery. She has set an example by raising her voice against injustice and brutality.
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