After the Rape: The Mukhtar Mai Story

In 2002, a neighboring village council ordered that Mukhtaran Mai, an illiterate peasant living in a distant part of Punjab, be gang raped as punishment for an alleged affair her brother had with a woman of that tribe. Mukhtar refused to be a victim; she “fought against the culture of silence and shame,” demanded justice and took her case to the Pakistani courts. In the process she became an international symbol of the struggle of women to gain justice in the developing world. She founded two schools to educate girls for “when boys and girls go to school, they will be more educated and wiser.” Today the schools educate hundreds of girls who prior to this would have had no hopes or expectations for their future, and Mukhtar says “the girls and the school give me the courage to fight back.”

This remarkably courageous woman also established a crisis center where women victims of abuse come from all over Pakistan seeking Sister Mukhtar’s help. Their stories are horrific—a five year old girl murdered by insecticide placed in her eyes and on her face; a woman gang raped as punishment for the alleged offense of a male family member; an eleven year old kidnapped into a forced marriage. Mukhtar’s struggle to “end violence through education” has made her a target of death threats.

Before the girls begin their school day, they must do the household chores that are typically considered women’s work in a rural community—cooking, cleaning, and washing. Sidra, in her seventh year of school, aspires to be a doctor and a leader of her country. Sidar’s father wishes her to become educated for “education is a treasure,” and her parents have promised that they will not make her marry until she has become a doctor. Sidra wants to “raise the values of my nation,” but she knows that lack of education and violence, particularly sexual violence against women, are used as tools to keep them under the control of men.

Revealing the progress and fruits of Mukhtar’s labor, this powerful documentary tracks the school’s profound impact on the girls and families of Meerwala and shows how the crisis center empowers women seeking its help. Her story, included in the bestseller “Half the Sky” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and the subject of Mukhtar’s own memoir, “In the Name of Honor”, has inspired women across the globe.

After The Rape: The Mukhtar Mai Story (2008)
Distributed by Women Make Movies
462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Cobos Films
Directed by Catherine Ulmer Lopez
DVD, color, 58 min.

By: Shahira Motani
Online Marketing & Outreach Coordinator
Women Make Movies

2 thoughts on “After the Rape: The Mukhtar Mai Story”

  1. A truly brave and remarkable women. An excellent heroine! She has demonstrated what it means to be a Muslim. Despite the appalling and unspeakable crime she suffered, not only did she fight for justice against the injustice by going to the courts, she went beyond that. She took it upon herself to raise awareness and education in her own hometown for both young girls and boys by setting up 2 schools. She showed that unless you address the root of the problem nothing will change. She realised that you have to start early and that boys/men actually have to be taught to respect women as equal partners and to change the thinking of a society.
    As Allah(SWT) says in the Koran ” The condition of a people will not change until they change what is in themselves..”
    It is forbidden to slander innocent women and harrass them.
    But people forget or ignore the message of the Koran. They are merely content with reciting its verses every now and then without striving to understand it and acting on its guidance and just relying on external sources for salvation.,
    Nobody it going to come and save the Pakistanis from themselves or their enemies-they are going to have to work it out and learn to do it themselves and for one another and only then will they achieve lasting stability and progress.
    Fortunately Mukhtar Mai had the support that was needed and long may it continue.
    What came of those devils that perpetrated this crime and brought dishonour and shame to their countrymen and countrywomen?
    There ought to have been a public execution (after a proper trial and due process) ordered by the state , of these despicable animals to serve as an example that such barbaric acts will not be tolerated in a Muslim nation. Unless all Pakistanis at every level, home and abroad do not take a stand and do their bit against crimes against the vulnerable (mostly women and children) then they cannot call themselves citizens of the “Islamic republic”.Islam demands that you stand up against all forms of injustice and oppression until there are no more. They are undeserving of that. Moreover Pakistan is supposed to represent the “Land of the Pure” but has become anything but that. Pakistanis themselves are duty bound to purge themselves of all the polluting factors:
    cultural /traditional beliefs that go against with Koranic principles, the misogynistic culture, corruption in services and institutions, greedy politicians and business, poverty and illiteracy ,INdiscipline, INfighting & violence ,exploitation by foreign sources and misinterpretation of the deen of Islam.

  2. Mukhtaran Mai, Hafizahallah, refused to become a pawn in the hands of the enemies of Allah. She made it clear that irreligious and ignorant elements formed the ‘panchayat’ that ordered her sentence and pious people and knowledgeable people, including the Imam of her neighborhood Masjid supported her and spoke out against the sentence. That is why she is no longer mentioned in the international and local media.


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