Women have to wait for justice: Mai
HYDERABAD, Sept 1: Rape survivor turned rights activist, Mukhtaran Mai, says on Saturday that women in other countries, too, face excesses sometimes but they are sure the perpetrators can never get away with it whereas in Pakistan the wronged women have to keep waiting for the elusive justice.
Mukhtaran Mai who gained international acclaim after her unwavering stand against the people who had subjected her to gang-rape in Meerwala village of Punjab in 2002, made these remarks while responding to journalists’ queries after she inaugurated the Civic Society Club in Qasimabad.
Mai said that women had to face different kinds of pressures within the family as compared to their male counterparts and were forced to live in a suffocating atmosphere.
“Atrocities and excesses are committed against women almost in every country but they get justice in time,Â” but in Pakistan they were made to run from pillar to post and post to pillar for justice, she said.
Mukhtaran Mai, who has travelled across the globe, attending conferences and retelling her ordeal to a world audience, sounded disappointed when she said she had not received justice so far.
“The accused in my case were earlier convicted by one court, acquitted by another and now the case is pending adjudication before the apex court,” she said.
She spoke of bottlenecks in the country’s criminal justice system and said that police usually did not bother to cover important points while registering an FIR.
She said that women were getting aware. “Allah Almighty gave me so much respect after what I had to go through,” she said when she was reminded what President Musharraf had said about the women who after having been raped went abroad. “Everyone has his/her own nature,” she said smilingly.
She emphasised the need for creating awareness and educating women. “My native village is a backward area. People live in abject poverty and they are not interested in sending their children to schools,” she said.
Mai said that she had started her school with three girls and now it had 1,000 students. “I started it with my sister and another girl. I had to implore families to at least send one of their daughters or sisters to the school,” she recalled.
About different pressures on women in Pakistani society, she said that the father, brother, husband and then son were cause of the pressures. “Male members don’t have to face anything like that,” she said.
She said that Islam guarantees women’s rights but religion is used whenever women are to be discouraged from working with their male counterparts.
She said that she had married a decade ago but was divorced soon as she could not get along with her husband.
“All non-government organisations should play their role for education women as everything can not be left to government alone,” said a resolute Mukhtaran Mai.
Mai is from the village of Meerwala, in the rural tehsil (county) of Punjab. She suffered a gang rape as a form of honour-revenge on the orders of a panchayat (tribal council) of a local clan known as the Mastoi, a clan that was richer and more powerful than Mukhtaran’s clan, the Tatla.
In April 2007, Mukhtaran Mai won the North-South Prize from the EU Council of Europe. In 2005, Glamour Magazine named her “Glamour Woman of the Year”.
According to the New York Times, “Her autobiography is the No. 3 best seller in France … movies are being made about her, and she has been praised by dignitaries like Laura Bush and the French foreign minister”.