Wednesday 5 November 2014

Raped for punishment in Pakistan: Mukhtar Mai

Mukhtar Mai
I remember everything. It's not something I can forget - it'll always be a part of my life. It happened in 2002. I remember every single thing, even the time it happened.
I was sitting at my parent's house, and they chose me to go and apologise for what my brother had done. I lament that they chose me, but I didn't want this to happen to any of my sisters either.
I tried to commit suicide twice after the incident because I felt like I wasn't getting any justice. What happened to me is another form of honour killing.
Honour is a toxic word. Honour is only for men here, it's not for women, who are always to blame in any given situation. The owner of a woman's honour is a father, brother, father-in-law.
A girl doesn't even have her own home: first it's her father's home, then her husband's home and then ultimately her son's home.
What happened to me is part and parcel of our system. It says that there is a difference between a son and daughter: one is better than the other.
It starts from the mother. When something is cooked, food is first given to the son and father, and if there's any food left over they'll give it to the daughter.
Men and women both have rights, God gave both rights, but it's all about lack of awareness, false traditions created by society, no law. And if there are laws, they are not implemented. Girls are killed for choosing their own partners for marriage.
And they never get justice because the killer is the father and the prosecutor is the mother - this is the system and it's a vicious cycle. Why doesn't a woman ever get justice - is a woman not a human being?
After 12 years, I am still going through appeals to the courts to get justice. The court says you need four witnesses - well I have the whole village as witnesses - but it boils down to the mindset of men in this patriarchal society.
The biggest problem is feudalism and the fact that people don't get justice. When there is no hope of getting justice, then people go to village elders because the police aren't listening to them.
And the elders will make the same decisions as the decision that was made for me.
These traditions need to end: the world is moving forward, and we seem to be standing in the same place.
Things have not improved; the only difference is that women have started asking for their rights. The media has helped a lot.
A woman never used to raise her voice or leave her house, but now a woman goes out, goes to courts, goes to meet lawyers. She is seen everywhere but there is still no justice.
Since my incident in 2002 there have been no similar events in my village. There has been a shift. The feudal authorities used to make decisions, but now there is no council the way there used to be.
Now the policemen make that decision. Even child marriages have been controlled. When I used to leave the village and come back I would find out that some girls from my school as young as nine had been forced to get married.
But now we have even stopped some weddings from happening.

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