This is a story I promised we would follow up on and one I think is being ignored by the media. One that should be of great concern to anyone who cares about women. Three years ago Mukhtar Mai, was ordered gang raped in Pakistan. She walked home barely clothed to the jeers of some sickos in her community. Apparently it was retribution for her 12-year-old brother supposedly having sex with a woman from some higher social class. Now it seems that probably never even happened, but even that point is beside the point.
Rather than hang her head in shame quietly, Mukhtar fought back against the men and the tribal council who ordered the rape. Fourteen men were eventually tried, but eventually most of them were let free. It looked like almost all would walk, but on Tuesday Pakistan Supreme Court stepped in and overturned 13 acquittals.
Even so, the government is still afraid of what she's going to say. Earlier this month her passport was taken, she was put on an official list of people prevented from traveling abroad. This after she was invited to the U.S. to speak about her horrific experience in Pakistan. President Musharraf even admitted that he ordered it for fear that she would “be bad-mouthing the country.” Now it seems that she can't at least come alone. This story makes my blood boil.
Anna Buttar is president and founding member of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women. She joined Dan Abrams on Tuesday's program to discuss the issue. You can read the transcript below or click on the Video launcher to watch her interview
DAN ABRAMS: All right. What is the status? Is she allowed to come here? Are they going to send some government minder with her?
AMNA BUTTAR, ASIAN-AMERICAN NETWORK AGAINST ABUSE OF WOMEN: Last I heard from her was Monday, and yes, she has her passport, but she is still being, of course, coerced into not coming. They are saying that she can come if they escort her. And she is saying no, she wants to come here freely like she was planning to come.
ABRAMS: And your organization invited her here so she could speak out about what happened and serve as an inspiration to many women.
BUTTAR: Our organization is Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women, and we formed this organization three years ago.
ABRAMS: But why did you invite her?
BUTTAR: We invited her because our goal is to really bring awareness towards violence of women and violence against women of Pakistan. And we invited her to be a spokesperson because she has now become an activist.
ABRAMS: She is amazing woman, isn‘t she? The fact that where she grew up, rape is a topic that is “A” so shameful, “B”, you know it seems the women who are the ones who are blamed and there she is, coming out publicly, saying this is what happened to me and I‘m going to fight these people.
BUTTAR: She is an amazing woman, Dan. She brings hope to all those women who cannot come forward. Typically these women are expected to kill themselves or their family kills them because they are dishonored and they bring dishonor to the family. Yet, she fought back. She said she‘s going to fight the system. Since Mukhtar, 1,200 women have been gang raped in Pakistan, so today those 1,200 Mukhtarans who never spoke to the media, whose story has not been brought to you are also hoping to.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you about—those other women, are they in a similar situation? Meaning that some awful tribal council ordered it or are you just saying in general there have been 1,200 incidents. I‘m not meaning to minimize it. I‘m just asking you for purposes of statistics.
BUTTAR: Gang rapes are happening and these are gang rapes. These are not other rapes. These are gang rapes and majority of them are rapes. Some of them are rapes because of vindication and other violence towards women, but these are gang rapes. So these are horrible crimes that are happening and these women are also not getting justice and a lot of that is because of unjust laws. Laws that are discriminatory towards women.
BUTTAR: And that is the reason why Mukhtar couldn't get justice.
ABRAMS: Right and look, and that‘s why we‘re doing this story. Listen, when she gets here to the U.S., bring her on the show. We‘d love to talk to her. You know, keep up the fight. Thanks for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
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