Pakistani human rights crusader Mukhtar Mai gained international attention in 2002 after she challenged entrenched gender and socio-economic stereotypes in her country, suing the men who gang-raped her on the orders of a village council.
VOA will be chatting with Mukhtar Mai about her battle to modernize the status of women and improve girls’ access to education in Pakistan and around the world. You can also ask Mai about her journey and discuss how to improve the lives of women in every community.
Join VOA Asia and VOA’s Urdu Service on Twitter on Wednesday, June 15th at 15:00 UTC/11:00 am EDT using the hashtag #VOAAsiachat.
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About Mukhtar Mai
Mai’s nightmare began when a local council ordered her to be gang-raped as punishment for her brother’s suspected affair with a woman of a higher caste. Rape victims in Pakistan are often branded as dishonorable, and the social stigma drives many to suicide. Instead of hiding, Mai has stood up not only for her rights, but for the rights of all Pakistani women.
She accused 14 men of being involved in the rape, entering a protracted legal battle that has drawn international attention. A Pakistani court sentenced six of the men to death, and acquitted the others for lack of evidence in 2002. But since then, two of Pakistan’s highest courts have overturned five of the convictions. Only one man remains sentenced to life in prison for the attack. Mai is appealing the ruling.
Mai is not only an outspoken human rights advocate, she is also an educational pioneer, establishing the first school for girls in her hometown, Meerwala, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“School is the first step to change the world,” said Mai, who used compensation from her attackers to set up the classroom.
In 2008, she created the Women’s Resource Center for survivors of family violence, providing legal aid, shelter, medical treatment and psychological support to those in need. In 2005, Glamour Magazine named her “Woman of the Year.” And in 2006, the New York Times listed her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.