MUKHTARAN: WHAT LURKS IN THE SHADOWS What Lurks in the Shadows for Mukhtaran Mai Is What Waits for Any Woman who Has Been Raped and Then Some. Whether raped by a gang or a date, women historically have faced a he said/she said conundrum where he is always given more because his future could be at stake because of a false accusation, while her whole life would be merely ruined by the incident.
Pakistan is different from other countries. Many courts would claim jurisdiction in this case. The Pakistani government would like to see it go away. What people forget in the west is that Pakistan is an Islamic republic with religious as well as state courts. Who decides may be more important than what is decided. A woman’s word alone has only recently been given the credibility so critical in rape cases there. And for some reason terror law applies in the case of Mukhtaran.
THE LATEST: JUNE 28, 2005 Pakistan's Supreme Court has suspended the acquittals of five men in a notorious gang rape case that has sparked worldwide outrage.
The Lahore High Court had in March acquitted five men accused of raping Mukhtar Mai in 2002, allegedly on a village council's order. --snip—
Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said in the ruling: "The inspector general of Punjab police is directed to arrest them and hand them over to judicial custody, pending final disposal of the appeals." [BBC]
As proceedings came to a close on Monday, Ms Mai had
no idea that Tuesday would bring a speedy decision. "I just want
justice to be done," she said.
On Tuesday, as Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan continued his arguments, Ms Mai took a nap.
Mr Khan blasted the Lahore High Court's acquittals, saying they was based on pure conjecture.
"A sole statement of the accused in gang rape cases is sufficient to ensure a conviction," he told the court.
Then it was the turn of Ms Mai's lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, to take the podium.
"This is a battle of a poor and illiterate
lady who has decided to fight a legal battle against her rapists to the
farthest level and she has not succumbed to the pressures she has faced
in her course," he said.
He urged the court to review the village
council system - Ms Mai was raped allegedly on the direction of such a
council, or panchayat.
"In this case the role of the rapists and the panchayat are the same. It is all about dastardly rule," he said. [MUBASHIR ZAIDI/BBC]
Outside the courtroom, dozens of women hugged and congratulated a relaxed and smiling Mai, who was wearing the traditional Shalwar kameez -- trousers and a shirt -- with a blue-and-green shawl covering her head.
''I am happy and I hope those who humiliated me will be punished,'' Mai said. ''I was expecting justice from the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has done justice.'' [NY TIMES]
RECENTLY: ISLAMABAD, June 27: The government told the Supreme Court on Monday that the acquittal of five accused in the Mukhtaran Mai gang-rape case was based on wrong assumptions. “The Lahore High Court’s Multan bench judgment was purely based on conjectures as all the corroborative evidences were ignored,” Attorney-General Makhdoom Ali Khan said --snip— The Supreme Court had asked the attorney-general to assist the court on the question if the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) could take up the matter by suspending the high court’s order of acquitting convicts involved in the Meerwala gang-rape case.
On March 14, the Supreme Court through a suo motu notice stepped in to end an inter-court controversy by staying separate orders of the Lahore High Court, Multan bench, and Federal Shariat Court, which had suspended Multan bench’s order of acquitting the convicts by declaring high court’s judgment as without jurisdiction.
The attorney-general said the question of jurisdiction was also raised at the time when the Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) initiated the Mukhtaran Mai trial.
Section 6, 7 and 32 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 overrides Enforcement of Zina and Hudood Ordinance 1979, therefore, any appeal against trial court’s verdict could only be challenged before the high court and not the FSC, he said.
Citing a previous apex court judgment, he said the Supreme Court had held in the Mohammad Abbas case that convictions could be awarded even on the sole statement of a gang-rape victim. [DAWN]
So many aspects of Pakistani justice come out in the Mukhtaran case that President Pervez Musharraf would prefer stay in the dark. But in the midst of shadow also lingers hope. For those who doubt, the power of one conscience can challenge a government and the world. The challenge is to turn from darkness and see us all in the light.