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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Mukhtaran Mai vs. The Rest of Pakistan

The past couple of months have been a bit trying, for one reason or another. Mainly a state of mind that has corresponded to a confused state of health. So, while I had written 3 or 4 pieces to blog, I did not quite finish any. By next week, if all goes well, I shall be placing them all here.

Two recent things have jolted me out of my state: The APHC visit (blogged by many others, so I shall stay out of it) and the unexpected turn that the Mukhtaran Mai Case has taken, with the release - yet again - of the culprits.

My friend, The Warrior, has written a clear and hard-hitting piece on the latter subject, which I reproduce below (as usual, without his permission!) ... No point in my writing anything that is bound to sound limp after this, na? Over to you, again, NS:

There are examples in history where armies were dispatched to protect the honour of a single woman. There is however no example of a single woman dispatching herself to fight against an army of institutions that collectively represent an entire country. An unparalleled example in which a country that nauseatingly proclaims its 'enlightened moderation", gangs up all its state institutions to deny justice to a helpless victim so that the life and liberty of rapists can be protected. A unique case where a country as its state policy (or the lack of it) actively promotes the crime of rape, and still more vigorously protects the rapists - whose links can be invariably traced to the ranks of powerful and influential.
There may not be words profound enough to pay tribute to this women from Meerwala , who single-handedly shattered the holy myth and the hollow fa├žade of the land of the pure. She has brought home the reality that the state and its uniformly inept, inadequate and immoral institutions will never support an ordinary citizen. They will act only when such an act is committed on the family member of a Chief of Staff, Chief Secretary, Chief Minister or a Chief Justice. The state does not exist for ordinary citizens. 
She has thus correctly chosen to wage a moral war, all by herself, against the rest of Pakistan. She is single-handedly fighting against the Jirgas, knowing full well that the powerful wish to retain them as an instrument of oppression. It was a Jirga that ordered her rape. She is fighting against the corrupt police, who did not register an FIR, till forced to do so. She is fighting against the courts, whose inept bickering and myopic clerical understanding has denied her justice for the past three years. She is fighting against the President and the Prime Minister, who did nothing to help her, beyond promises and photo sessions. She is fighting against the 'momins' and the 'mullahs', whose measure of morality is limited to marathons. She is fighting against politicians and parliament, whose legislature will provide for slogans but not speedy and respectful support to a rape victim. And - finally - she is also fighting against the sleeping conscience of the people of Pakistan, whose tolerance for oppression and injustice knows no bounds.
If one day Pakistan has a system that will provide speedy and respectful justice to every rape victim, then we must know that it would not have been possible, but for the struggle and sacrifice of a woman from Meerwala. Thank you Mukhtaran Mai.
[Naeem Sadiq]

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