A Pakistani woman who became internationally known for pressing charges against the men who gang raped her in 2002 is speaking out again.
Last week, Pakistan's Supreme Court dismissed Mukhtar Mai's appeal against the acquittal of five men who raped her. The court ordered the five men to be freed, but upheld a life sentence for another defendant in the case.
Since then, Mai has told media outlets that she plans to file an appeal against the court's ruling.
She says she was raped on the orders of a local council after her younger brother allegedly had illicit relations with a woman from another clan. Today, Mukhtar Mai runs a school in her village of Meerwala and works to promote the rights of women.
VOA spoke to her just after the latest legal ruling in the nine-year-long case.
Speaking through interpretor Madeeha Anwar, she told VOA’s Sarah Williams the court's decision is bad for all Pakistani women.
“She’s saying that she’s really sad on this decision and this is a bad decision by the supreme government.”
You have said that you are concerned following this decision, concerned about your own safety, and that of your family. Why?
“She’s saying because the landlords of the area, they are very powerful, they can do anything, they can harm them, her school is under danger, her staff is under danger because there is no law for them, so that’s why she said so.”
Listen to the entire interview here:
What does this latest court decision do for women's rights in Pakistan?
“She said she wanted to raise her voice for justice, but when she didn’t get the justice she thinks that no women in Pakistan can get the justice.”
You made the decision a number of years ago to go public with this case. Why?
“Because she is saying that whatever happened to me happened but I wanted that the other women were safe, so I wanted to raise my voice for them.”
Given the controversy about this legal case, would you ever consider leaving Pakistan and going to live somewhere else where you might be more safe?
“She’s saying the question of leaving Pakistan is out of the question. I never had such intentions. If I wanted to leave my country, I could have done that in 2002, I had many offers, I have many social welfare work there, I have some schools, shelter homes, and not Pakistan, not even my small town.”
I would be interested to hear about your work now. I believe that you work with schools. What kind of work do you do?
“She’s saying that she started her school in 2002, and she started with four girls and now she has three schools, one was damaged in the floods last year but one is now a high school and it has like 650 girls in it and one is a primary school for boys, it has 300 boys there.”
Finally, everybody in the world is increasingly becoming familiar with new media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Have these social media sites made any impact on the publicity surrounding your case?
“She’s saying she’s also using this media, she cannot use it herself but she asks other people to check it for her, and she has started using for the past two, three months, and she’s saying obviously in this era, these things have their importance and she fully wants to utilize this.”