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Pakistani Women's Rights Activist Mukhtar Mai silenced by the Pakistani authorities
The Pakistani government is trying to silence human rights defender Mukhtar Mai, whose courage and refusal to be silenced has increased international attention to abuses against women in Pakistan.
In 2002, Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped on orders of a traditional village council as punishment for acts allegedly committed by her younger brother. She courageously testified in court against the men responsible for her rape and, using compensation money, built schools for girls and boys and started a shelter for abused women. She has emerged as a powerful symbol of the brutality and blatant inequality of the justice administered by tribal councils in rural Pakistan.
Earlier this month, Mukhtar Mai was put on Pakistan's "exit control list," notorious for preventing government critics from leaving the country, in response to her plans to speak about her experiences in the United States. On Thursday June 9, Mukhtar Mai was placed under strict police watch and prevented from leaving her home, and was later taken to an undisclosed location by government officials.
At a June 14 press conference, a government representative announced that restrictions on Mukhtar Mai's movement would be lifted, but that a police squad would accompany her for her own protection. She tearfully told Pakistani human rights activists that she had faced significant pressure from the Pakistani government to sign a letter withdrawing her visa application to the United States.
source: Human Rights First