Women’s Rights, Human Dignity and Equality with Mukhtar Mai

Mukhtar Mai, Pakistani author, women’s rights activist, and victim of “honor revenge,” addresses the 5th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.


Full remarks


Mukhtar Mai: I am thankful for the Geneva Summit and its organizers, and I am thankful to all the people who are present here.

Everybody knows what happened to me in 2002. I saw the people who were educated, they knew what the good and what the bad was. So I started a school in one room. We were four students. I’ve been running this school for two years. I hired a teacher who was paid 1500 rupees and she told me one day if you want to pay me, pay me or you don’t have to. I sold my earrings and I gave her her pay for six months. I also know how to sew so I earned 100 rupees per day; I used to give her 50 rupees for her teaching. The Canada Mission came there and they helped me in their school. 

We used to go to our area’s houses and tell the people that they should send their children to school but they discouraged us; they didn’t let us. But now, thank god, they have changed.

We started our school, which was on the primary level. And now, the number of girls who are acquiring education in our institutions is in the thousands. We don’t give them holidays in winter and summer. 

My family didn’t support me in this whole case. My parents and my family were against me going to the police. But I went to the police because the people who gang-raped me threatened me that I shouldn’t go to the police station. Otherwise they would kill me. When I heard that I was determined to go to the police station. When I went to [the] police station my brothers, and my whole family [were] against me, but only my mother spotted me. My brother used to threaten me that if I go to the police station, he would commit suicide. I went to the police station and the behavior there was not really appreciable. I went to court and they decided for me; the court decided against me. And then again I went to court and they decided against me. The Supreme court again decided against me and they bailed the criminals out. It has been 10 years. But now I am proud that I have been an inspiration for those women who had to face this situation. They used to commit suicide, they used to run away from their houses. Now they have a voice.

I made a shelter home for those women because I know that the families don’t support [them] in this situation. I made a mobile unit with that shelter home; there are lawyers. We bring the victim to court and to the police. The aim of the mobile unit is that if her life is in danger we can help her out. Our helpline is open 24 hour [availability]. The shelter in charge refers the victim to the police and to lawyers. 

I would like to thank you once again and would make an appeal to all of you that I have no funds for my school. I don’t want to see my area again going backward, I want to make a change there and this will happen with education. Three batches of our students have gone to college. Now the fourth batch is also ready to go to college. I would make an appeal for donation because we have no donation, if someone wants to adopt our school or one of our children, I would be very happy and I would be thankful to you. 

Thank you very much. 

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