Mukhtara Mai reflects on 18 years ago, when she walked into a police station to report her rape by a group of 14 men in her village. She laments the absence of access to education for boys and girls in Pakistan.
18 Years Ago
June 22, 2002 Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped on the orders of the panchayat to seek retribution for an alleged act of adultery committed by her 12-year-old brother. However, she insisted the accusation was false and was only leveled against her brother to prevent the family from registering a case against those who sodomised her brother.
She was raped by six men in front of onlookers and made to parade naked on the streets. She said there a total of 14 men involved in the incident. Only six were taken to court.
A local cleric urged her family to report the matter and told a local journalist about it on June 28, 2002 making it the first time the case was mentioned in the media.
Mukhtara wanted to commit suicide, but her parents stopped her.
Had she succeeded, her narrative would have been very different.
Instead she chose to do this:
She set up the first and only school in her village of Meerwala.
First a school for girls, and then for boys. She started with 4 students, and now she has over a 1000.
“I had no money to pay the teacher. She was going to leave the school. So I started stitching. I would make Rs. 100 per day. Rs. 50 for the children’s school text books and Rs. 50 for the teacher’s salary. I worked like this for 2 years till I received help in expanding the school.” – reminisces Mukhtara
The men who raped her send their children to her school as well. She says she doesn’t mind as education is a good thing for young, innocent minds.
She opened shelter home for women
So many people were with me yet it was difficult to get justice. The women who come to me are alone. They need my help.
Mukhtara says that the Women’s Welfare Organization she set up in Meerwala has helped reduce by a large percentage, if not completely, the cases of female abuse inside homes in her village.
In the Name of Honour – Mukhtara’s memoirs have been published across the world in 23 different languages.
We do not have updated statistics on rape cases in Pakistan, but one record shows that 10,000 rape cases were reported in Punjab during from January 2014 to June 2017.
Now add to that the rape cases that were never reported.
Mukhtara’s shelter home has been attacked as well, by way of threatening her into silence. Her accused rapists were acquitted by the court and live very near her home in the village.
If you have something to add to her story, please write in comments below.
Watch her Ted Talk here.
Shazia likes to pen her thoughts when she feels passionately about a life experience, a person or an event. She is mother to 3 lively boys and along with her husband, attempts to settle in her new country by taking German lessons so she is able to soak in the culture, language and spirit of the region.
“Wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and exhale! Keep on living with a passion that inspires others! “