Mukhtar Mai, Pakistan's woman of steel, is not giving up yet!

"No court can weaken my resolve to stand against injustice," Mukhtar Mai, often referred to as the Rosa Parks of Pakistan, tweeted shortly after the verdict. Mukhtar was ordered to be gang-raped by a tribal council in 2002 after her 12-year-old brother Shakoor was accused of having an affair with a woman of the superior Mastoi tribe.
"Supreme Court's verdict proves that police dictate system in Pakistan," read another tweet by Mukhtar.

Civil society groups and individuals have expressed "shock" and "disgust" at the verdict announced by the Supreme Court yesterday. "The verdict is not just a blow for Mukhtaran Mai (and the release of the accused could heighten the threats against her life) but it can and will be seen as another limp response to rape as a crime, a reflection of societal chauvinism, and a blow to womens' rights in the country," wrote Adil Najam, editor of a Pakistani ezine.

"Most importantly, the practical manifestation of the decision will be to deny closure to and to bring back into painful scrutiny the life of a woman who has already been through so much – too much – pain," he said.

A commenter agreed with Najam's post: "Today we have allowed the village elite a free hand to rape any woman in their village and get away with it. "The feudal system wins and the poor lose their face yet again."

Many had expected Mukhtar Mai to commit suicide, as is all too common after rape in the country, but she refused and started a legal battle against her alleged rapists.
Soon her struggle for rights became a struggle for other deprived women too.

With the money she received as compensation from the courts, she built her village's first girl's school – an institution she had never seen before and something which the little girls of her village will never be able to thank her enough for.

Mai, who broke down and wept after hearing the apex court's ruling yesterday, said she was undecided about appealing against the verdict.

"I cannot say anything. I will consult my lawyer but I have no faith in any court now.    I only have faith in God's court," she told the media in her hometown of Meerwala in Punjab province.

"The release of the suspects has put my life in grave danger," she said, adding "I have waited and endured problems for five years. "If they had to give such a verdict, why did they cause me so many problems for five years? They need not have taken suo moto notice if they had to uphold the earlier judgement."

Mai acknowledged that the original FIR filed in 2002 against those accused of raping her may have had flaws but pointed out that she was illiterate at the time.
"What is my fault in this? Why is the court punishing me?" she asked.

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