Mai seeks review of court order acquitting her assaulters

To avenge the woman`s honour, the village council ordered her gangrape.

Islamabad: Mukhtar Mai, who gained
international attention after being gangraped on the orders of
a village council, on Thursday filed a petition in Pakistan`s
Supreme Court seeking a review of the acquittal of several men
accused of assaulting her.

Mukhtar Mai`s counsel -- Aitzaz Ahsan, also a senior
leader of the ruling Pakistan People`s Party - filed the
review petition.

She challenged an order issued by the apex court last
month that upheld the Lahore High Court`s verdict acquitting
the men accused of raping her.

She sought the constitution of a larger bench of the
apex court to hear the review petition.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had upheld
the High Court`s verdict and acquitted five of the six

It also dismissed Mai`s appeal against the decision of
the High Court.

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai was a seamstress in Meerwala, a
small village in Punjab province, when her 12-year-old brother
was falsely accused of having an affair with a woman from the
powerful Mastoi tribe.

To avenge the woman`s honour, the village council
ordered her gangrape.

While other women brutalised in so-called "honour
crimes" have been shunned, Mai`s family embraced her and took
her to the authorities.

The Imam in her village preached against the outrage.
In June 2002, a case was filed under an Islamic law
and the Anti-Terrorism Act against 14 suspects, including two
members of the village council.

In August the same year, a lower court in Punjab
awarded the death sentence to six of the accused, including
the two village council members, and acquitted the other eight

In March 2005, the Multan bench of the Lahore High
Court acted on an appeal filed by the accused and struck down
the lower court`s order. It acquitted five of the six accused
and converted the death sentence given to Abdul Khaliq, one of
the main accused, to life imprisonment.

The life sentence was upheld by the apex court.
Mai`s struggle for her rights became a campaign for
other deprived women.

With the money she received as compensation from
courts after a three-year legal battle, she built her
village`s first girl`s school and launched the Mukhtar Mai
Women`s Welfare Organisation.


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