New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof today updates his story of Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who was sentenced by a tribal council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother. Four men raped Mukhtaran, then village leaders forced her to walk home nearly naked in front of a jeering crowd of 300. Ms. Mukhtaran was supposed to have committed suicide. Instead, with the backing of a local Islamic leader, she fought back and testified against her persecutors. Six were convicted. She used her compensation money to start two schools in her village, one for boys and the other for girls.
The woman, who has emerged as a spokeswoman against honor killings, rapes and acid attacks on women, was invited by a group of Pakistani-Americans to visit the U.S. But a few days ago, Kristof writes, “the Pakistani government went berserk. On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest – to stop her from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence her, the police cut off her land line. After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up…But at dawn yesterday the police bustled her off, and there’s been no word from her since.”