Monday, June 27, 2005

Mukhtaran Bibi update

Mukhtaran Bibi / Mukhtar Mai's appeal against the acquital of the men who gang-raped her goes before Pakistan's Supreme Court today. The world will be watching to see if President Musharraf's policy of "enlightened moderation" includes justice for women (or indeed, justice at all) - and, if the rapists must be acquitted due to lack of evidence (as opposed to their victim being a low-caste woman), whether his regime will do anything to ensure that they do their job properly in the future. Unfortunately, they seem more focused on silencing NGOs and preventing them from raising such cases in the future, rather than doing anything to prevent them from happening or ensure that justice can be done after the fact.

The BBC also has a story about Ms Mukhtaran's problems with the police. Two police officers now live in her home - but rather than being there to protect her, they seem more interested in protecting Pakistan's international reputation from potentially embarassing interviews:

After a while, the two policewomen left the room.

They have gone to tell the authorities that I am giving an interview," Ms Mai smiled.

Clearly, that was exactly what they did. After a while, several policemen barged in. They all looked worried.

They told us that Ms Mai's statements were bringing a bad name to the country and that "they could lose their jobs" if they let the interview go ahead.

Seeing that no one was convinced, they finally left us alone.

If this is an example of the priorities of the Musharraf regime, then it has a long way to go...