• Ann-Weiner

    Survivor of Honour-Based Violence
    Pakistan: 2002

    Although 29-year-old Mukhtar Mai was innocent of any wrong doing, she was brutally gang-raped by members of a neighboring tribe for an act that was allegedly committed by her younger brother. Her brother was accused of dishonoring the tribe by paying attention to one of its’ young women.

    In many parts of the world, like the Pakistani village of Meerwala where Mukhtar Ma’i lived, the victim and not the rapists are held responsible for dishonoring their family and community. To regain the collective honor of her village, Mukhtar was expected to commit suicide or be killed by a male member of the family.

    Each year over 5,000 girls and women around the world are victims of acid attacks, immolations, stoning, and rape, in the name of “honor.” Unlike other types of brutality against women, honor violence is a ‘collective” crime where male members of a family and community conspire to kill or mutilate a daughter, sister, mother, or wife whose behavior is thought to have tarnished their honor.

    In spite of the traditions of her culture, Mukhtar was able to survive and fight back against the horrific abuse she experienced.

    Mukhtars’ autobiography, Deshonoree, was the number 3 best-selling book in France and her story was the subject of an award-winning documentary titled Shame. Her story was also featured in Nicholas Kristof’s’ book Half the Sky under the chapter “Rule by Rape.”

    Mukhtar used the compensation money awarded to her by the government of Pakistan to build a school and refuge for girls in Meerwala. In spite of continued threats to her life, she has become a spokesperson against honor violence in the hope of protecting future generations.

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