Small Signs

I Could Scream: Examining the plight of women under Islam
The high court in Lahore has ordered that the men who gang raped Mukhtar Mai in 2002 be released on Monday. In addition, the men on the village council who ordered her rape will also be freed.

Mai’s case is not unusual, except in one respect: after being raped for hours as retribution for her brother’s misbehavior (a charge cooked up to cover over the fact that he himself had been sodomized by members of a powerful clan in their village), Mai didn’t go home and conveniently kill herself. Instead, with the help of her imam and the support of her father and family, she fought back — all the way to the high court.

For three years now, since her young brother’s rape in June, 2002, this woman has lived with and managed to transcend a nightmare. Having been awarded compensation by the Pakistani courts she took the money home and started two schools in her village, one for boys, another for girls. Inspired by her courage, money came from around the world. In March, Canada donated a large sum to Mai for the continuation of her education projects in Punjab.

Mukhtar Mai has said that she thinks she will be killed eventually for her stand. And she may be right, Pakistan is a cruel place for women: it has been estimated that eighty per cent of the female population has been brutalized at one time or another.

At the moment,though, her website has crashed. That’s a good sign: it means everyone is watching.

hat tip: fjordman

7 thoughts on “Small Signs

  1. This horror is beyond comprehension– and her courage is beyond measure. We look for analogues to try to provide context, but they are pitifully inadequate.

    I don’t know what comfort is to be found in the rantings of the Quran, but still, I hope she finds it.

    Thank you for this, Dymphna. These testaments change hearts– slowly to be sure– but the tilt of the mightiest scale will eventually be turned by a single grain of sand.

  2. Why is this woman not airlifted out of Pakistan? Surely Amnesty International is watching this situation with horror? Would she not qualify for asylum?

  3. Jude–

    Look above, at a4g’s remarks: she is serving as a witness to the cruel system into which she was born. I doubt she would leave if given the opportunity.

    Don’t forget, she’s had several opportunities to “leave” — she could’ve killed herself, which is the usual and customary response to court-ordered gang rape in Pakistan. She could have quit at any time during the periods when her case was wending its way thru the ‘justice’ system to the high court in Lahore…

    …but she took her compensation money and turned it into schools in her village. She used the money that poured in from around the world to provide electricity to her village. She’s joined with other women nation-wide to bring witness to bear on the situation there.

    No, she’s not going anywhere. That’s why they may try to kill her: it’s the only way to shut her up. OTOH, dare they? She’s already so high-profile that they know the wrath of Allah will descend on them — in the form of severe national govt scrutiny — should they do anything.

    Mai is the epitome of upppity woman.


    PS and she didn’t get there by herself. It was the support and encouragement of her imam and her father that first led her to fight these powerful men in court. None of us can stand up without that kind of network.

  4. I get incoherent thinking about the absence of all the organizations that supposedly are looking out for women’s rights.

  5. Re: Dymphna who said …
    “None of us can stand up without that kind of network.”

    So how about we try to extend the support network? Her site is down due to bandwidth limitations. Does anyone know how to help her buy more bandwidth?

    Whois returns a contact e-mail address Contact:, but no contact address for the website itself.

  6. There is a women’s group in Pakistan which has been very helpful to her.

    I believe it is run by the attorney for a woman who was the victim of a notorious honor-killing. If I remember the story correctly, a husband, or a membor of his family, shot his wife right in the lawyer’s office.

    I’ll see if I still have that info.

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