Pakistani girl gang-raped for ‘acquiring education’
After Mukhtaran Mai, a case of Mumtaz Mai has come to light in rural Pakistan, where women become victims of tribal warfare, family feuds or quite simply, male violence.
The News International Saturday reported the case of one Mumtaz Mai and her daughter, Ghazala Shaheen Bathi, who were abducted, held in captivity and gang-raped for 12 days because daughter Ghazala dared to become educated.
Mukhtaran Mai, the tribal woman gang-raped in June 2002, was freed after the Pakistan Supreme Court intervened in her favour. The case raised protests and concern among civil societies across the world last year.
While Mukhtaran Mai was a victim of a family feud and an act in retaliation to the rape of a girl her brother Shakur was alleged to have committed, the mother-daughter duo earned the wrath of the Mirali tribesmen when it became known that Ghazala had passed her Master’s in Education from Bahauddin Zahariya University on Aug 25.
The girl’s father Mohammed Hussain, a retired armyman belonging to village Chak Sher Khan near Kabirwala in Multan, was also beaten up.
As in Mukhtaran Mai’s case, influential people are said to be involved in this case too. The newspaper report repeatedly hinted at the involvement of “a minister of state”, but did not name him.
When informed by the villagers, the local police acted after 12 days, only to help the accused.
While three men managed to escape, the local villagers prevented the car carrying the two women from driving away.
It is said that among the three men overpowered the villagers included two bodyguards of the minister.
Kabirwala’s police chief Daud Hussain has been quoted as denying the incident. The police reportedly clarified that the two women had run away from their home “on their own”.
However, the newspaper said authorities in the local hospital confirmed that the two women had been raped.
After Mukhtaran Mai’s case was taken up by human rights organisations last year, Canada offered to grant her citizenship.
Mukhtaran Mai’s visit to the US coincided with that of President Pervez Musharraf. Hackled by the media on the issue, an irritated Musharraf condemned women from his country who complained of being raped, only to earn citizenship of other countries.
Mukhtaran Mai remains a Pakistani citizen, involved in social work in Pakistan and using her “celebrity” status to help needy organisations in her country.