Mukhtar Mai

Meerwala, Pakistan
c. 1972

Mukhtar Mai’s twelve year old brother was raped by a group of men from a tribe in a higher social circle. To protect themselves from being prosecuted they accused him of holding hands with a girl from their tribe – a crime. The tribal council’s sentence was that the boy’s sister would be gang raped. Mukhtar was that sister. After the rape she was forced to walk home naked.

After such a punishment women are expected to commit suicide to protect their family from shame. Mukhtar Mai refused to do so. She went to the authorities to have the men arrested.

The courts convicted six of the men and Mai was awarded a financial payment. She used that money to build two schools in her village – one for boys and one for girls. She hoped that education would change the way women are treated in Pakistan. Her story has attracted donors from around the world and she has created a foundation to provide shelter and legal help for people, often women, who are victims of violence or injustice.



The Time 100 of 2006

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