Mukhtaran Mai Hailed as ‘Pakistan’s Rosa Parks’

New York: Mukhtaran Mai has been acclaimed as ‘Pakistan’s Rosa Parks’, an African-American civil rights activist who refused to take her ‘designated’ seat on a segregated bus.
‘Shame,’ directed by Muhammad Ali Naqvi, premiered recently at the Tribeca Film Festival and is a documentary chronicling the events in Mai’s life after June 22, 2002, the day she was gang-raped after a tribal court ordered it as retribution for an alleged rape by her 12-year-old brother of a female relative of the men who carried out the gang rape, reported the Kyodo News. With the help of a local imam and against the wishes of her family, Mai filed a police report, which launched her on the first steps of her long journey towards justice, reported the Kyodo News. A local reporter ran her story, which quickly made national and international headlines. The men were then rounded up and arrested.”
Naqvi, a Canadian-born film director, grew up in the US and Pakistan, and was in Pakistan working on his first documentary when the news broke. “There were so many people interested in learning more about her,” he said. Initially, he had no plans to document her story, but after their meeting he was astonished by her unwavering conviction in the face of adversity.
Since the traumatic event unfolded, Mai has been victimized by her community, the police and other government officials. After her testimony at the trial, the court handed down death sentences to her tormentors. However, despite using money received from the government to set up the first of many schools in her town, Mai continues to receive death threats, reported the Kyodo.
She tries to make time for her own studies as a fifth grader at her own school alongside overseeing students and running a women’s welfare organization, as well as building a local hospital, reported the Kyodo. “It makes me feel proud as a person of Pakistani origin that a woman could be so strong,’’ said Fajah Najam, a moviegoer who saw the film and thought the story was a fairy tale until Mai walked into the theatre and was greeted like a rock star. “This movie is about this woman’s strong character.”

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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