Wednesday, June 15, 2005



Something specific II

Here's something else Helen Clark might possibly want to raise with President Musharraf during their talks over the weekend: the case of Mukhtaran Bibi. Three years ago, she was sentenced to be gang-raped by her local tribal council - not for any crime she had committed, but as "punishment" for a crime committed by her brother. The allegation against her brother turned out to be false, and she pressed charges against her abusers. Six were sentenced to death. In March, those convictions were overturned on appeal. The case is now before Pakistan's Supreme Court, but in the meantime Ms Mukhtaran has been placed on the country's exit control list, preventing her from leaving the country. Why? Because she has publicised her case in the international media, and intended to further publicise it at a human rights conference in the US. She has effectively been silenced, her house surrounded by police, to protect Pakistan's reputation.

If Helen Clark wants to do some good, she should raise this case with President Musharraf. She should ask that Mukhtaran Bibi be removed from the exit control list so that she is free to travel. She should urge Pakistan to dismantle the barbaric system of tribal justice that hands down sentences of rape as a form of collective punishment. And most importantly, she should urge Pakistan to start punishing the perpetrators of crime, rather than the victims.

Update: It's worse than I thought - as Tze Ming points out in the comments, Mukhtaran Bibi has been detained by the Pakistani police to stop her from speaking out. What was that I was saying about "punishing the victims"?

If you'd like Clark to raise this with Musharraf, you can contact her at pm@ministers.govt.nz. While you're at it, you might want to try Phil Goff or Marian Hobbs as well.

1 comments:

She has not only been prevented from travelling, but has been placed in arbitrary incommunicado detention. See:
http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/001720.html

Posted by tze ming : 6/15/2005 11:39:00 AM