Reaction to Mukhtaran Mai verdict: Citizen groups outraged

Published: April 22, 2011

Several organisations gather to discuss strategy on how to respond.

KARACHI: 

The acquittal of five of the six men accused of raping Mukhtaran Mai has been met with “shock and absolute disgust” by a cross-section of civil society groups, which gathered at the Aurat Foundation building on Thursday to discuss a future course of action as a result of the Supreme Court’s verdict.

With just 30 days to file for the review of the decision which some organisations, such as the Aurat Foundation, felt was the best way to go.

However, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) member Iqbal Haider said a review was not a good option nor did Mukhtaran seem interested in filing for one. Haider suggested that Justice Nasirul Mulk’s statement should have been delivered as the verdict but “the courts are slaves of the laws and mere technicalities.”

Many of the women’s rights organisations felt the need to “do something”. Naeem Sadiq, a social activist, said focus needs to be laid on the “dangerous indications the verdicts point to. There are many Mukhtaran Mai and this decision puts their future at stake as well.” Sadiq said contempt of court in citizen’s voicing their opinions on the verdict should act as a stumbling block.

Member of Citizens for Democracy Mohsin Sayeed said, “We need to directly target the judges. Contempt of court is not greater than contempt of human dignity.” Sayeed suggested mapping out a sustainable protest with clearly defined short-, medium- and long-term strategies and goals. “We must force the judges to review themselves.”

Director for War against rape (WAR) Sarah Zaman agreed. “We need to avoid the headless chicken syndrome where there is a sudden hype but the matter fizzles out just as fast and is more damaging,” she warned.

Zaman said for years they have been hearing snide remarks against Mukhataran. “In fact, women who go to the station to register a rape case are taunted by police officers on duty saying, bara Mukhataran Mai banay ka shauq hai tumhain? (You are really trying to follow in the footsteps of Mukhtaran Mai). The idea in people’s minds is that rape survivors come forward for the celebrity status and to cash in on their situation,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad-based National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) and the Insani Haqooq Ittehad (IHI) – an alliance of human rights organisations that includes Mehergargh, Rozan, Sungi, Bedari, Ethno Media, Pattan and others – expressed deep shock and disappointment at the verdict. Additional reporting by Sumera Khan in Islamabad

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Faraz
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:41AM

    Thats why Islam set the tough punishments for such persons because other people could get lession from it and the criminal activities in the society can be stopped from such shame doings ….Recommend

  • natasha
    Apr 22, 2011 - 10:24AM

    It is also because Islamic law’s requirements to produce 4 witnesses that rapists get acquitted. Recommend

  • faraz
    Apr 22, 2011 - 10:45AM

    Sharia demands 4 male Muslim witnesses for Hudood punishment. Female witnesses or circumstantial evidence like DNA tests are not acceptable. And a witness is allowed to retract his statement later in the proceedings. If Mukhtaran Mai case had been filed under Hudood Ordinance, she would have received 80 lashes under Qazaf. Quran has prescribed few exemplary punishments which are to be carried out under extra ordinary circumstances. Rest of the Sharia is man made.Recommend

  • Ashraf
    Apr 22, 2011 - 11:57AM

    @faraz:
    Raymond Davis case was also settled according to the provisions of Islamic law. Why are people complaining about it? It was not man-made either. You can’t walk on both sides of the street.Recommend

  • noor
    Apr 22, 2011 - 12:36PM

    for those who will say its protecting misuse of the law.. WHERE THE HELL IS protection for the victim and even Blasphemy laws.

    CONVENIENCE is thy name.. when it comes to justice in this God’ forsaken Land.Recommend

  • M Ali Khan
    Apr 22, 2011 - 1:35PM

    @faraz:
    the 4 witnesses are for PROVING ADULTERY. not rape!

    such a bogus out-dated, bigoted, and useless system! DNA evidence, victim’s testimony, medical reports, women, are not to be believed but the testimonies of 4 mard-e-momins should???Recommend

  • faraz
    Apr 22, 2011 - 2:50PM

    @Ashraf

    I agree. Although Diyat law is heavily biased against the poor, but it makes some practical sense. But rapist can’t be convicted under Hudood law unless he is the unluckiest man of the world. I dont agree with application of islamic law in both cases. I seriously think that Ijtehad is needed over the traditional interpretation of Diyat and Hudood.

    @M Ali Khan

    Islam doesn’t differentiate between rape and adultery. I believe Hudood law is not practically applicable; it’s only meant to set an example in case all the circumstances are met. Obviously, DNA evidence, medical reports etc. are conclusive and rapist should be punished on circumstantial evidence. Recommend

  • munib
    Apr 22, 2011 - 3:46PM

    What else one could expect from the “Taliban mindset” judiciary of Punjab . . .
    In Punjab courts people like Mumtaz Qadri are showered flowers while Mukhtara Mai gets humiliation . . .
    all the evil starts from 1956 in PAKISTAN when Mullahz hijacked the country for their own vested interest . . .Recommend

  • Athenian
    Apr 22, 2011 - 4:05PM

    I am not a muslim and as I am reading the above comments on ‘the necessary 4 witnesses testimony’ I have the following questions: How can a man attempt to or actually rape a woman in the presence of four other men? How can four men just stand by and see such cruelty without doing something to stop the perpetrator? How can a raped woman provide the court with four men who were there at the time of crime to testify for her? Isn’t this law irrational and inapplicable? Also, if Ms. Mai whose ordeal became known all over the world cannot get justice, how can other rape victims dare to report the rape and expect anything positive to come out of it? Finally, rapists and other criminals get the wrong message: Do whatever you wish, you can easily get away with it.Recommend

  • ABCDEFG
    Apr 22, 2011 - 5:03PM

    Why do people say rape requires 4 witnesses….thats a massive misconception and myth. Rape does not require 4 witnesses, ADULTERY does. Recommend

  • Fortune Cookie
    Apr 22, 2011 - 7:27PM

    The women of Pakistan MUST come together and hold protest marches.Recommend

  • Pragmatist
    Apr 22, 2011 - 8:08PM

    @Athenian:
    The questions you raise are very pertinent. It is ludicrous to assume that a rapist or an adulterer will do his act in front of 4 witnesses. Nothing symbolizes the irrelevance of such edicts like this does. But then, what can you say to the people who treat it as gospel.Recommend

  • shahzad
    Apr 23, 2011 - 12:05AM

    @Ashraf:
    great dude that was what i was thinking ti answar this guy,i will add we just follow the islamic law in conditions in which we see our profet,Recommend

  • m
    Apr 23, 2011 - 12:29PM

    The law only requires 4 witnesses for an adultery case and if you look at it without taking it literally, it just means that if 4 people are witnessing an act that is wrong and not doing anything about it than it just indicates something terribly wrong with the society. secondly, when four people are witnessing this,than this immoral act is being propagated and that’s wrong and that is what is being punished. its all very symbolic and the wisdom behind the law is actually in its interpretation.Recommend

  • Karim Khan
    Apr 23, 2011 - 4:42PM

    Justice gangraped in Supreme Court!Recommend

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