Sunday, September 28, 2008
Mukhtar Mai is not a college graduate, in fact she is barely literate. And yet a New York Times columnist said, "There is no one person who has been more courageous - or more effective - in the struggle for women's rights in the developing world." Mukhtar truly is a Gutsy Woman. In June, 2002, in her villege of Meerwala in Pakistan, and at the age of 33 years, she was gang-raped by four men who wanted to punish her brother for something they thought he had done. With her honor destroyed she was expected by her community, and even her family, to kill herself in shame. Instead, Mukhtar drew from deep within herself a sense of dignity and strength and determined to show her village the true meaning of honor.
Gathering herself together, and against her family's objections, she went to the police. Ultimately her four attackers were placed in jail and her government awarded her with $8,300 in damages. You might think that she would get out of her village and run as far as she could, as fast as she could. But, Mukhtar did not, she chose to stay in her hometown.
She used the money to start the villages first school, despite further threats to her safety. She spoke out about education and its benefits for helping women to learn to respect themselves and to speak up. She taught other women that education will stop future generations of men from abusing women. Mukhar has even found the compassion and courage to teach the children of the very same men who raped her!
Since 2004 and when her story became public, Mukhtar has received many thousands of dollars from individuals internationally to help with her school. Thousands of Pakistani women have travelled to her remote village and shared their own stories of rape and abuse. Many came to receive help and others simply to thank her for sharing her story. In response to accolades she has received for her bravery, Mukhtar has simply said, "It's because of the support of the world that I feel brave."
Mukhtar Mai is truly a Gutsy Woman and one that will be role models for women around the world for years to come! You can read more about Mukhtar on Wikipedia and from journalist Michael Thompson.