1. Choose a woman who, you think, cannot fight back.
Mukhtaran Mai was an illiterate villager in the province of Punjab, Pakistan.
2. Manufacture a reason to punish her.
Mukhtaran Mai’s brother, who was 12 at the time, was accused of having an affair with a woman from the powerful Mastoi clan. The shame this supposedly brought on the clan was to be avenged by a gang rape of Mukhtaran.
3. Check that the law is on your side
Under Pakistan’s Hudood Ordinance, proof of rape generally required the confession of the accused or the testimony of four adult Muslim males who had witnessed the assault. Failure to prove a rape allegation — sometimes it’s just really difficult to get the rapist to come to court with his victim, and as for those four adult Muslim male witnesses, it’s a bummer coordinating their schedules — failure to prove a rape allegation puts the woman at risk of a charge of fornication or adultery. For this, she could go to prison for a long, long time, or get a public whipping, or be stoned to death. Remember that the testimony of a woman carries half the weight of a man’s testimony under this ordinance. So the old “he says, she says” works in your favor too.
4. Grab five of your friends and go for it!
Mukhtaran Mai did fight back and now, some 10 years later, has just received word that five of the six accused men have been acquitted by the Supreme Court. The sixth man has had his death sentence commuted to life in prison. Expecting the release of the five men acquitted, Mukhtaran fears for her life. But she is not leaving her village, where she runs a school for girls, and she is not keeping quiet.
See the next blog.