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September 08, 2006

Mukhtar Mai

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I was driving home just now, listening to radio four and one particular news story hooked my attention: that of Mukhtar Mai, an internationally successful figure in the fight for women’s rights in Pakistan. She’s been in the news lot over the past few years so you may already have heard about her, but I felt compelled to share my enthusiasm for this powerful woman.
Mukhtar was gang-raped on the orders of a rival clan in her native village of Meerwala, Pakistan. Backed by the government, she managed to recieve compensation and won a court hearing that ended with the prosecution of some of her rapists, a feat acheived by only a miniscule minority of Pakistani women who suffer the same fate.
The part of the story that really held me was how she used her compensation to establish two school is her home province, one for girls and one for boys, in order to combat the negative treatment of women with education. She believes this is the only way to create a lasting impression and ethos of respect between men and women in the next generation. She never recieved education as a young girl – there was no school for girls in her village – so she has created the opportunity for young girls to have what she never experience, and what she believed would have made a significant difference. What an enlightened and truly inspiring individual; to use her experience constructively to combat a taboo, but extremely important issue within her native environment.
Her latest progression has been to set up a weblog! I’ve tried to find it but failed…Mukhta is illiterate herself, but she dictates issues and debates about the unacceptable treatment of women in rural Pakistan, which are typed up on her weblog by a local bbc journalist. She is spreading the word and creating an awareness of abuse that has passed us by silently until recently. Good on her.

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