US envoy concerned over safety of Mukhtar Mai in Pak

"Following the release of those accused of gang rape, I am disappointed for Mukhtar Mai and concerned for the rights of women in Pakistan," Ambassador Cameron Munter said in a statement issued by the US Embassy.

"I call on the government of Pakistan to ensure Mukhtar Mai’s safety. As the Supreme Court said in its judgment, 'violating the sanctity and chastity of a woman is a sordid, despicable, squalid act, which is considered abhorrent in any civilized society'," he said.

Munter said he admired Mukhtar Mai's courage for speaking up about the crime committed against her and her work to inspire and educate Pakistani women about their fundamental rights.

Thirteen men accused of involvement in the 2002 gang-rape of Mukhtar Mai have been freed from a prison in Punjab province after their acquittal by the Lahore High Court was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Mukhtar Mai had challenged the High Court's order in application filed in the Supreme Court. The apex court upheld the High Court’s decision last week and said the accused should be freed if they were not wanted in any other cases.

Following criticism of the apex court's verdict by rights activists and Mukhtar Mai's remarks that she feared for her life, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the government will provide security and legal assistance to her.

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