Mukhtar Mai

May 1, 2007

Today, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend talk by Mukhtar Mai as she spoke here at Hopkins. The Foreign Affairs Symposium was responsible for bringing her. It was the first time this year I had attended an event sponsored by the Foreign Affairs Symposium as they usually bring in speakers who hold fairly liberal views, but alhamdulillah, I’m extremely glad I was able to attend Sister Mukhtar’s talk. So, today, I thought I’d write a little bit about Mukhtar’s story so that we can all become more familiar with what she has done for Pakistan.

Mukhtar Mai was gang raped on the order of village tribal council elders in a case of honor/revenge in 2002. Usually when cases like these go unnoticed, Mukhtar broke her silence and did the unthinkable and fought back using the legal system. She took the case to Pakistan’s highest court and won. With settlement money, Mukhtar was able to open up a school in her village. Originally, with only three students (two being her sister and herself), Mukhtar’s is now responsible for having opened three schools, which have more than 1000 students enrolled in them! Her dream is to continue opening schools and encouraging education in villages where no such institutions exist.

Mukhtar’s story was picked up by BBC. Later, Mukhtar Mai was named Glamous Magazine’s 2005 Women of the Year. Moreover, she was awarded the Fatima Jinnah gold medal for bravery and courage by the Pakistani government. President Pervez Musharraf even mentions her in his blog (it’s so weird he has a blog!). Furthermore, Mukhtar was awared the 2006 North-South Prize of the Council of Europe. She has also recently released her new book entitled In the Name of Honor: A Memoir.

Masha’Allah, I found Sister Mukhtar to be a very humble and courageous person. She spoke in Urdu and her speech was translated here today. I feel we can all benefit from the amazing story of Mukhtar Mai for she has surely benefited so many people in Pakistan.

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