No Justice For Gang Rape Survivor Mukhtar Mai

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Mukhtar Mai © Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday April 21, 2011 the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a decision in the case of gang rape survivor Mukhtar Mai.  Mukhtar Mai was gang raped on the orders of a village council in June 2002 when her brother was wrongly accused of having an affair with a woman from a rival gang.

Following the incident, an Anti-Terrorism Court had sentenced six of the accused men to death. This sentence was overturned by the Lahore High Court which acquitted five of the accused and commuted the sentence of the sixth to life imprisonment.

Now the Supreme Court Pakistan’s highest legal authority has affirmed the judgment of the Lahore High Court and acquitted all but one of the accused. In an astounding decision, the Court argues that the accused enjoy a triple presumption of innocence without ever defining the term or explaining the burden of proof it entails.

In other portions of the decision, the Court an appellate body questions Mukhtar Mai’s ability to identify her rapists given that the incident occurred after dark.  The Court also refused to attach accomplice liability to other members of the council or any members of the crowd of 200/250 people which the Court’s own record admits were present when the incident took place. The decision cites lack of evidence as the reason for upholding the acquittals.

In television interviews Mukhtar Mai expressed outrage at the Court’s decision and said she had fears of retaliation from her newly freed rapists.  Human rights groups in Pakistan and around the world have expressed their shock and outrage at the decision. Ignoring the reality that the local community in Mukhtar’s village supported the village council’s decision and that rape kits are almost never on rape victims, the Supreme Court has chosen to re-victimize Mukhtar by asserting the incorrect filing of the initial police report and lack of DNA evidence as some of the reasons for acquittal.

Mukhtar Mai’s case represents the double conundrum facing Pakistani victims of rape and sexual assault. Not only must they contend with the increasing power of fundamentalist groups that wish to use religion to eliminate women from the public sphere, but also institutional patriarchy that fails to acknowledge the obstacles faced by rape victims in evidence collection and crime reporting.  As noted by human rights groups in Pakistan and elsewhere, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has not shied away from ordering investigations etc in other cases but has refused to do so in this instance.

Other recent setbacks for rape survivors in Pakistan include a challenge issued by the Federal Shariat Court on December 22, 2010. The Shariat Court deemed unconstitutional the provisions of the Women’s Protection Act of 2006 which amended clauses relating to rape.

The decision of the Federal Shariat Court if implemented would once again create a situation where reports made by rape victims can be used as confessions to prosecute them for fornication and/or adultery under the provisions of the Zina and Hudood Ordinance of  and require them to provide four witnesses to the act to enable prosecution.  The Federal Shariat Court refused to consider the arguments of Muslim scholars as well as Pakistan’s own Council of Islamic Ideology that has criticized the law as poorly constructed and lacking theological validity.  On Sunday April 24, 2011 Mukhtar Mai and her legal team announced that they will be pursuing review of the case and that she will continue her efforts to educate and empower women.

To take action, please send messages to Pakistani authorities asking them to review Mukhtar Mai’s case.

SEND APPEALS TO:

President Zardari
Pakistan Secretariat,
Islamabad,
Pakistan
Fax: 00 92-51-9207458
E-mail: publicmail@president.gov.pk
Salutation: Dear President Zardari

Dr. Zaheeruddin Babar Awan
Federal Minister
Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs
Room 305, S-Block,
Pakistan Secretariat,
Islamabad,
Pakistan
Fax: 00 92 51 9202628
E-Mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk
Salutation: Dear Minister

AND COPIES TO:

Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
Chief Justice of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Islamabad,
Pakistan
Fax: 00 92-51-9213452
Salutation: Dear Chief Justice Chaudhry

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14 thoughts on “No Justice For Gang Rape Survivor Mukhtar Mai

  1. What an outrage that women who are victimized have to go through re-victimization through the "justice" system. It's unbelievable that a village council would order the rape of a woman for the supposed "crime" her brother committed, which was later proved that he did not commit. This is stone age behavior…. In fact, I would venture to guess much better behavior existed in the stone age. At least, disgusting laws would not be in existence and institutionalized being the one benefit of a stone-age pre-literate society that horrible, inumane laws never were written down for posterity as they now exist in backwaters of morality like have been exhibited in Pakistan. There are lovely, fair minded and intelligent people in Pakistan, unfortunately they are so cowed by the Fundamentalists who have no problem using violence and murder to enforce their inhumane beliefs upon others, so that outrages like this are able to exist side be side a relatively well educated developing middle class.

  2. These Criminal should send back to justice and Jail Immidiately.
    I do Understand women in Pakistan like in other countries do not have rights and respect. The International community should up against the Suprem Court
    decition

  3. What an outrage that women who are victimized have to go through re-victimization through the “justice” system. It’s unbelievable that a village council would order the rape of a woman for the supposed “crime” her brother committed, which was later proved that he did not commit. This is stone age behavior…. In fact, I would venture to guess much better behavior existed in the stone age. At least, disgusting laws would not be in existence and institutionalized being the one benefit of a stone-age pre-literate society that horrible, inumane laws never were written down for posterity as they now exist in backwaters of morality like have been exhibited in Pakistan. There are lovely, fair minded and intelligent people in Pakistan, unfortunately they are so cowed by the Fundamentalists who have no problem using violence and murder to enforce their inhumane beliefs upon others, so that outrages like this are able to exist side be side a relatively well educated developing middle class.

  4. In their own stupidity and ignorance, they ordered those men to do what they uphold as a mortal sin. None of those men were married to her, just as her brother in his false accusation did the same. Pathetic and cowardly. It's even more disgusting that out of the vast number of people present for it, not a single one did anything about it. I hate to feel hate towards another human, but people like that need to be eliminated. They're nothing but malicious, lead bricks on the thin sheet of ice that is the modern world. Their vile existence does nothing but hinder progress towards the unity of mankind.

  5. These Criminal should send back to justice and Jail Immidiately.
    I do Understand women in Pakistan like in other countries do not have rights and respect. The International community should up against the Suprem Court
    decition

  6. In their own stupidity and ignorance, they ordered those men to do what they uphold as a mortal sin. None of those men were married to her, just as her brother in his false accusation did the same. Pathetic and cowardly. It’s even more disgusting that out of the vast number of people present for it, not a single one did anything about it. I hate to feel hate towards another human, but people like that need to be eliminated. They’re nothing but malicious, lead bricks on the thin sheet of ice that is the modern world. Their vile existence does nothing but hinder progress towards the unity of mankind.

  7. I am apalled at the lack of justice, lack of common decency. To violate again an already violated young woman. Why is the legal system in this country so ''messed'' up? Women are equal to men. No question about that and yet I am seeing a victim of a horrible crime being treated like worse than a cockroach. And what the sort of men that would do such as act upon any woman anywhere, they are monsters and should be treated as such. Anyone reading these commentaries, please, let us help Mukhtar Mai , at least have justice. For she will have nightmares for the rest of her life. And what did this innocent young do to deserve such a total, brutal violation of her body and her spirit. Shame upon these 6 men.

  8. I am apalled at the lack of justice, lack of common decency. To violate again an already violated young woman. Why is the legal system in this country so ”messed” up? Women are equal to men. No question about that and yet I am seeing a victim of a horrible crime being treated like worse than a cockroach. And what the sort of men that would do such as act upon any woman anywhere, they are monsters and should be treated as such. Anyone reading these commentaries, please, let us help Mukhtar Mai , at least have justice. For she will have nightmares for the rest of her life. And what did this innocent young do to deserve such a total, brutal violation of her body and her spirit. Shame upon these 6 men.