|Mukhtar Mai meets Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Shaukat Aziz.|
Mukhtaran Mai, a victim of tribal and caste wars in Pakistan has grabbed the attention of leading human rights activists in the US as well as in London. So intense is the voice of human rights activists that the State Department official Christina Roca also expressed her anguish over the decision of the government of Pakistan to restrict Mukhtaran's travel to the U.S.
In 2002 a traditional council in a small village in Pakistan ordered, the 33-year-old Ms. Mai be gang-raped because her younger brother allegedly had relations with a woman of a higher status.
After a public outcry over Ms. Mai's treatment, a provincial court put 12 men on trial for the rape, including the head of the local council, and six were sentenced to death. But earlier this year, another court overturned five of the convictions and reduced the sentence of the sixth man to life in prison. The 12 men were subsequently re-arrested on order of the Islamabad government but were freed in early June 2005.
Ms. Mai meanwhile was placed under house detention and told she could not travel abroad, apparently because officials believe her personal accounts of the ordeal could harm Pakistan's image.
This case exposes an aspect of Pakistan's social reality and must be condemned, but when such cases are selectively exploited by government officials and special interest groups for political purposes, it also exposes a hypocrisy that must also be taken to task.
Three years ago, several Muslim women of Gujarat were gang raped by fanatic supporters of the Bhartiya Janta Party led by Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Even though the evidence was overwhelming, yet neither the human rights activists in the West nor the State Department expressed the much needed outrage. On the contrary, the then BJP leadership was given a heroic welcome in Los Angeles when the Museum of Tolerance invited the then deputy leader of the Party to talk about human rights.
The tragic case of Mukhtaran Mai is one of thousands not only in Pakistan but all over the world. In a world where a rape is committed every 30 seconds and a gang rape is committed every 10 minutes, the cries of the State Department and the human rights activists appear to be questionable.
Why are they raising this issue now?
The answer is not too difficult. It is not their concern for the victims of rape as their commitment to their own agenda that has brought them in the forefront. If they were serious about her case, they would have allowed the judicial process to take its full course before deciding any action specially in a situation when the highest executive authority of the country himself stood by her and assured the nation that justice shall be done.
By bringing her to the US or to the UN, they were not helping Mukhtaran but promoting their own agendas. What was done to her was inhumane and Un-Islamic? The feudal and tribal system that promotes this kind of action must be challenged because who knows how many Mukhtarans have been living in the agony of harm done to them. By exposing her to a society where there is a growing anti-Islamic environment the activists are primarily serving their agenda to humiliate those who stand for Islam or Pakistan.
How many a times, rape offenders in the US have walked free after the jury trial and how many a times the rape victims have to leave their towns and work places to save them selves from humiliation. Yet one hears little from the so called human rights activists about the victims.
If they were really sensitive to the sufferings of rape victims or the despicable practice of honor killing, they would have joined those groups of Pakistani women and men who have been working tirelessly at the grass root level to ensure that criminals are brought to justice. They would have worked with religious institutions demanding that violence against women and weaker segments of the society must be confronted from places of religious guidance.
The real purpose appears to be somewhat different than what is stated. There are groups within Pakistan and outside of Pakistan that are keen to destabilize Pakistan politically. Some have not forgiven Pakistan for going nuclear. Some suspect Pakistan harboring and promoting anti-Israel feelings. Others want to see Pakistan disintegrated rather than become a model of "enlightened moderation". Still some others want to see political chaos in the country to allow outsiders to achieve their political agenda. Within the Bush administration there exists a group that believes that by embarrassing the government of Pakistan on issues such as this, they can twist the arm of President Musharraf to win some key concessions.
Perhaps the best course at present is to persuade the President of Pakistan to personally intervene in this matter and urge the Supreme Court to give its ruling as quickly as possible. However, what is even more important is that a high-powered tribunal consisting of persons with outstanding credentials both in terms of knowledge and integrity, be formed to monitor violence against women in all walks of life and to prosecute those who are responsible for such crimes.
Women's rights in Pakistan or anywhere else cannot be left at the mercy of political agents who use them to serve their own goals and agenda. Rape victims must not be left at the mercy of those whose interest is determined on the basis of their political philosophies or ideologies. Unfortunately there are thousands of Mukhtarans in our world. We must not allow the opportunists to exploit them further; emotionally and politically. It is time that people who sincerely believe in the rights of victims of rape and violence in Pakistan stand up and talk about the real agenda. The government of Pakistan's sincerity in helping the victims will be judged on the level of support it offers to such genuine groups.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is the editor of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and director of the Muslim Electorates Council of America (MECA).
Do you think that this case would have been taken as seriously as it has in the courts in Pakistan had it not been for the international media attention it has receieved? Most likely not. It is unfortunate that as Muslims we can't force change in our community ourselves, and must rely on international pressure to force attention on issues such as these that would otherwise be buried away.
As far I know there are many Islamic groups in Pakistan, they have all the power and weapons, their members blow them self in mosques for Islam, how about first providing justice to people at grass root level (as promised in Islam). Why they are muted, Is it because even this so called Islamic groups are run by those tribal leaders ?
I am sure there are many good Muslims live in Pakistan, why don't a decent brother come forward and marry this women, she deserve this, this will not only give her required protection from any kind of exploitation by NGO's but it will also clam down the critics of Muslims.
Brothers is time to act.
Rape in all its forms is a gross violation of basic human dignity and honour. If those animals practised Islam, they would have been far removed from such actions. As a man, I am for the severest punishment of any form of rape (by death)... even if committed by Muslims!!!
There are too many victims of rape all over the world (increasing ever so rapidly in the U.S.A.).
The governments that are in charge must put a stop to this animalistic act, before the harms to society cannot be controlled!
Wassalaamu 'alaikum wr wb
Kufars from the West have to give us lessons on how to treat our women!
What doesn't make any sense to me is how these people were sentenced to death and then set free. As for as I am concerned and every Muslim on the face of the earth who has a mother, sister and or a daughter this should be completely UNISLAMIC. And dr. Abdullah I very much appreciate the wide knowledge of current affairs you possess but blaming the human rights groups for concentrating on our faults should be like a sigh from Allah (SWT). How are we going to lead by example if atrocities as such take place in our own backyards? We should be concentrating on how we can fix these UnIslamic acts in a Muslim country effectively and aggressively.
And now to the person who is directly responsible.
"General Musharif" you should be ashamed of yourself the daughters of the Islamic nations take pride in the security of her Mujahidin brothers of being protected from all harm foreign and domestic.
Where were you when she needed you?
And where is her justice just in case you want to come up with the excuse of you can't keep an eye on every single thing that happens under your Command?
I am nobody you may never have to answer to me but what are you going to say when you meet your creator???
Islamic rules under sharia are very clear you should be held responsible for such actions under your command pay attention to your people instead of worrying about pleasing the western "Superpower".
but modern laws seem to love rapists. these modern laws are merciful to rapists, but what about the victims? is this true justice? i'm saying for all laws that only gives, what 15 years or so, for raping. the victim's scar is for the rest of her life!
anyway, it's not a mystery if people who hate Islam wants to shame Islam. but when muslims themselves let me down, by bringing no Islamic justice to the victim -- yes, to me that is indeed shameful. muslims should feel ashamed, not because of the western accusations, but for us not implementing our own islamic laws...
All religions condemn such acts. This is not an Islamic issue but a humanitarian issue that needs addressed in an Islamic state (Pakistan being an Islamic state leaves the issue wide open to all kinds of backlash and exploitation against Islam).
How do you eat an elephant? Bit by bit. The first bite Pakistan needs to swallow is break the Feudal or Tribal system in the country. Teaching Islam is far beyond the issue here. First teach them what humans are.
I think that Dr. Abdullah you should invite the sister to your masjid --- infact all masjids in the US should issue an open and gracious invitation to the sister to speak out about violence against women.
I understand and to an extent sympathize with the problem of NGO agendas etc. BUT that should not detract from very real injutices. AND we Muslims, Islamic centers all over the US should take the initiative and invite her over.
It is all well and good to talk about agendas of other peoples, but the fact is that Muslims SHOULD be ashamed that such things happen in Muslim lands. No doubt there is injustice elsewhere, but followers of the Prophet (PBUH) have been far too tolerant of this sort of criminal activity against women. This behavior is
sinful and must not be tolerated or minimized by Muslim leaders. Stopping this behavior will be harder than finding some way to deflect attention to other parts of the world--but this is the task which must be accomplished by Believers everywhere.
Mukhtaran Mai can be a better advocate for Pakistani women who are victims of violence by remaining in Pakistan and continuing her battle for justice in her own society.