Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Great Muslims Part III
This Muslim is possibly the bravest and greatest of the ones I have chronicled thus far. Her story is also terribly tragic and speaks volumes about the lack of women's rights in the Muslim world. However, it's a story of hope and survival, and is actually incredibly inspirational. This is the story of Mukhtaran Bibi. Bibi was gang raped by tribesmen in retaliation for the supposed (false) crimes of her brother (oooh, he had a girlfriend, the horror!). You can call it an "honor gang rape." (pukes at the concept) The usual response to such an atrocity is to stay silent - out of fear of death. But unlike others, Bibi refused to stay silent. She went to file charges. However, the disgusting fact is that in Pakistan, four male witnesses are needed to confirm any rape. In the case where there are even four male witnesses, it is usually because the men were all responsible for the rape itself. She was supposed to have committed suicide after the rape. She refused to do this. When Bibi went public with her brutal rape, she refused to stay at the local level - she went international. This even made Time Magazine. Eventually, the government of Pakistan awarded her the equivalent of $8,500 in compensation for her rape. Bibi used the money to build two local schools: one for girls, and one for boys. There were previously no local schools for girls and no way for girls to get an education. Her attackers were also sentenced to death, but eventually acquitted. Later, when Bibi was to fly to London at the behest of Amnesty International, Pakistan put her on a no-fly list, a move that prompted protests aroound the world. Nick Kristoff of the NY Times reported that she was under house arrest. Eventually it was revealed that Musharaff put Bibi on the no-fly list in order to "protect Pakistan's image abroad." (ironically, this move made Pakistan look ten times worse) Eventually, Bibi was allowed to travel at will, and was awarded the "Woman of the Year" award by Glamour Magazine. Bibi has spoken at the United Nations about women's rights, and on October 31, 2006, is scheduled to release her memoirs. Her story is an incredible tale of hope and survival. It is inspirational to the world. It is an example of how one woman can fight injustice and barbarism, and come out ahead, despite all odds.