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Pakistani woman, who successfully challenged rapists in court, married.

17 March, 2009

Mukhtar Mai, also known as Mukhtaran Bibi, was gang raped in 2002 as punishment for an alleged crime committed by her brother, who had actually been raped himself.  Rather than follow the standard procedure of committing suicide, Mukhtar Mai challenged the men who assaulted her in court.   Although they were acquitted, she pressed her case to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and won.

Her willingness to prosecute the men who raped her brought Mukhtar Mai renown internationally as well as in Pakistan.

She has also written a best-selling autobiography and opened a school and a chain of women’s crisis centres in Pakistan.

In 2005, she was honoured as Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine in a ceremony in Washington.

The award praised Ms Mai for “her incredible courage and optimism in the face of terrible violence”.   (BBC)

One of the men assigned to protect her fell in love with her and continued to press his suit, despite her unwillingness to marry.  Now seven years later, she relented and became his second wife on Sunday.

“Eighteen months ago, he sent his parents to ask me if I would marry him. I declined because I knew he was already married and I didn’t want to ruin his first wife’s life,” Mukhtar Mai told the BBC Urdu service.    (BBC)

Mukhtar Mai’s concern for her husband first wife,  Ms. Shumaila, finally convinced her to accept his offer (although she does admit she had said that if she met a good man, who her family would accept, she might marry, but she would leave that up to Allah).

Finally, four months ago, he tried to kill himself by taking sleeping pills. “The morning after he attempted suicide, his wife and parents met my parents but I still refused,” Ms. Mukhtar said.

Mr. Gabol then threatened to divorce his first wife, Shumaila.

Ms. Shumaila, along with Mr. Gabol’s parents and sisters, tried to talk Ms. Mukhtar into marrying him, taking on the status of second wife. In Pakistan, a man can legally have up to four wives.  (NYT)

Ms. Mukhtar, however, affirmed her independent streak by insisting that the groom

transfer the ownership of his ancestral house to his first wife, agree to give her a plot of land and a monthly stipend of roughly $125.

Asked if she had plans to leave her village to live with her husband in his village, Ms. Mukhtar said no. “I have seen pain and happiness in Meerwala. I cannot think of leaving this place.”

Her husband, she said, “can come here whenever he wants and finds it convenient.” (NYT)

Photo from The BBC

May her marriage be as successful as all her other endeavours

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