because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mukhtar Mai

In June of 2002, Mukhtar Mai was ordered by a Pakistani tribal council to be gang-raped as a punishment to her family for offending another family. She was expected to commit suicide afterward because, in her society, losing her virginity outside of marriage is thought to destroy a woman's worth. But Mai threw the council and the men who raped her an unexpected curve. Rather than kill herself, she sued the rapists in a court of law.

A stunned national media, unused to seeing such a situation brought boldly into the public eye by a woman (gasp!), picked up the story and soon it went international. A nine-year court battle ultimately acquitted the rapists (what a surprise!) and during the whole time period, Mai and her family, including the courageous man who chose to marry her despite her sexual "impurity," have been continually at risk.

Nevertheless, Mai established the Mukhtar Mai Women's Welfare Organization to support and educate Pakistani women and girls and subsequently won numerous international awards for her work. The Pakistani government and local feudal lords don't appreciate her refusal to back down. In fact, she walks through her days knowing that her in-your-face stance puts her life in danger. She has been illegally detained, brutally derided, and to the extent possible, cut off from the outside world. Yet she has built two schools for girls, a women's resource center, and a battered women's shelter in her region and her memoir has been published in twenty-three languages. Not being able to read and write doesn't keep an in-your-face woman quiet.


  1. As do I, Asma. And I salute you, as well, for reading and celebrating this blog. Welcome.