Ending Violence Against Women in Pakistan

HRF submitted a petition and legal report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women requesting that she send an allegation letter to the government of Pakistan regarding its failure to exercise due diligence in the case of Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani human rights activist and victim of a violent gang rape in 2002.

Ending Violence Against Women in Pakistan
Mukhtar Mai

On June 22, 2002, Mai’s brother Abdul Shakoor, on the suspicion that he had illicit relations with a Mastoi woman named Salma, was abducted by three Mastoi men, sodomized in a sugarcane field, and taken to the residence of Abdul Khaliq, Salma’s brother. A panchayat (local council) was convened that same day and a decision was made that Shakoor would marry Salma and Mai would marry Khaliq in order to settle the dispute. These terms were not agreed upon however and soon thereafter several of those present from Mai’s tribe left the panchayat. It was then conveyed to Mai that if she came to the panchayat and asked for her brother’s forgiveness, he would be pardoned. According to Mai, when she arrived at the panchayat, approximately 200-250 people were present. Khaliq and three other men forcibly took her to a nearby hut and gang raped her. An hour later she was released and appeared, half-naked, in front of the villagers. In April 2011, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted all but one of the accused in the case.

HRF’s individual complaint and accompanying legal report conclude that, in the case of Mai, the government of Pakistan had violated the international standard of due diligence owed by states to prevent, investigate, and prosecute crimes of violence against women as well as compensate the victims of such crimes. Pakistan breached its duty of due diligence by failing to protect Mai from sanctioned violence by the panchayat, failing to effectively and fairly investigate Mai’s case, failing to properly prosecute those responsible, and failing to sufficiently compensate Mai for the violence perpetrated against her.

UPDATE: [December 22, 2011] HRF submitted a legal report to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women that examined Pakistan's shortcomings in meeting its obligation to prevent violence against women. HRF's legal report concludes that Pakistan must make a significant effort to ensure that legislation to prevent violence and discrimination against women is enforced at all levels; that government and civil society programs are effectively implemented, with an important focus on rural areas; and that education about universal rights and equal protection under the law reaches men and women alike.