Friday, November 04, 2005

Glamour Girl

 
There are lots of stories out there today about Mukhtar Mai’s award from Glamour mag. Not only is she their woman of the year, but they’re backing it up with $20,00.00. Is that cool or what?? Pakistan is finally permitting her to leave the country to receive awards.

Our regular readers at Gates of Vienna probably know about my previous reports on her story — a stranger-than-fiction sojourn from obscurity in a blood feud in a rural village in Pakistan to world-wide fame. What a woman!

Mukhtar Mai is not a profile in courage. She is a full frontal assault on a cultural sink in a country so backward that at least eighty per cent of the women report being seriously abused. These are the men who dump acid in the faces of wives they tire of. Fifty cents’ outlay for a bottle of acid is sure cheaper than a divorce. And hey, if it takes her a few days to die, what’s the difference? Plenty more where she came from — and that includes any children who might accidentally get it in the face with her, since this sport is usually carried out while the wifey is sleeping.

Here’s the thing: Mukhtar Mai was supposed to kill herself. This wasn’t something anyone was going to have to do for her. By the time they finished brutalizing her, Mai was supposed to crawl home naked and then do herself in.

There is a lot to her story, much of it ugly and degrading. But if you carry nothing else away about her ordeal, keep this fact in mind: her gang rape was the second one in her family and it only occurred because her little brother objected to the homosexual sodomy he endured at the hands (so to speak) of men from a powerful clan in their village. Had he kept his mouth shut after his ordeal, everything would have been okay. But when his attackers found out he was going to tell his family, they locked him in a room, stuck one of the young, unmarried girls of their clan in the room with him and then called the police. The officers arrived, surveyed the scene and arrested the boy for causing dishonor the reputation of this poor young girl by being in her company without a chaperone.

The fact that Islam’s rhetoric and Shar’ia law would have homosexuals stoned is not taken into account when older men sexually abuse young boys. These men are heterosexuals; the boy is merely a convenient, disposable vessel in a moment of pleasant distraction. Since they used him, they are not homosexuals. Had someone used them that might have been another story. A stoning story, perhaps.

So the boy had dishonored a girl from the Matori clan. Mukhtar Mai’s family must pay the blood price. When she found out that the tribal council was meeting in a field outside of the village, Mai ran there, hoping to intervene on her brother’s behalf. And so she did, but not in a way she had planned. When she arrived it was decided that the restoration of honor to the Matori clan could be accomplished then and there: the tribal council ruled that Mukhtar Mai would be gang-raped.

Five or six men were chosen and while they promptly administered justice, the villagers present celebrated the restoration of honor to the Matoris. When the rapists were finished, Mukhtar Mai was forced to walk naked back to the village while her neighbors laughed and jeered. Part way back, her father met her with a cloak and covered her for the remainder of the journey home.

Up to this point, there is nothing unusual in the story. There was only one action left to be taken: Mukhtar Mai was now supposed to die of shame. Literally. She was to kill herself, and in short order, please. A used, dishonored woman is worse than nothing: she is an insult to her family and to her village, an offense to be blotted out in order for balance to be restored.

Much has been made of her refusal to die, and of her courage in the face of the contempt and hatred that bombarded her for her stubborn decision to go on living. And much should be made of her struggle to transcend the shame, the doomed half-life in a darkened room.

However, we need to pay special attention to the other elements in her story — the ones beside her absolutely naked courage. As far as I can tell (and I’ve looked at her story carefully wherever I could find it) there are two other essential pieces of the mystery of her refusal to die. Mukhtar Mai admits herself that she wanted death more than anything. So what kept her going? It seems to have been two people: her father and her imam. Her father refused to see her as anything other than his beloved daughter. Her imam encouraged her to pursue her attackers in the courts.

And, so, backed by her family, Mukhtar Mai filed charges. So did her brother, for the sodomy he endured. His rapists were convicted in short order, though I don’t know if the boy — who was twelve when he was attacked — was ever cleared of his “crime” of being found in the room with the young woman. Mai’s ascension (or descent into hell) from court to court to court still hasn’t been fully resolved. The men who raped her have been imprisoned, they have been let go, some have been pardoned, others have been remanded once again. The Shar’ia Court wants all the men exonerated. The Supreme Court in Lahore claims it has jurisdiction. Or so it stood the last time I looked; things may have changed since then.

BodyguardsMai has body guards. There have been pictures of hefty women guards in hijab, given the task of preventing her death. She will probably always live with some kind of protection, but even Pakistan has to admit that she has become too internationally famous to allow her to be killed.

Mai thinks living under guard is worth what has transpired in the interim: the schools she has built, including schools for boys, with all the money she has received, first from the Pakistani government for restitution, and then private donations, and a large award from the Canadian government. To Mai, boys must be educated if the old ways are to change. She has brought electricity to her village and her work has spread to other villages. She has become a symbol of hope to the women of Pakistan. They face a brutal day-to-day reality. Anyone who can show them directly that it can be overcome —even transcended — is worth her weight in gold.

Remember when you read the newspapers’ garbled reports that her “punishment” was for her twelve year old brother’s crime, that there was no crime. Her little brother was the victim not a perpetrator. Just remember that… and then wonder just how many of the other stories you read in the newspapers and magazines get the “little” details dead wrong.

They don’t call it the Legacy Media for nothing.

13 comments:

gumshoe1 said...

Dymphie -

i suggest a button campaign.


very simple:

"Who is Muhktar Mai?"

File Closer said...

A society that allows and propagates what she had to endure must be brought to heel. Humbled, humiliated, and shattered. Anybody who isn't sickened and filled with rage at this story is either an enemy or an ally of the enemy. Thanks to GoV for keeping up the fight on the battlefield of ideas, which is the most important battlefield in this war.

Uncle Pavian said...

Among other things, Ms. Mai reminds us of what we would be facing if the Islamo-fruitcake element ever prevails.

Mussolini said...

Her story is heart-rending and encouraging.

I wonder, though, in this "war of ideas," if there is any such thing as a "good" muslim?

With such a horridly vile belief system as a base for social cohesion (killing infidels is good), I really doubt it.

We can hope she finds a different religious system to which she could apply that admirable will.

John B said...

I remember reading an article about her recently where she stated that she wanted to return and teach about Islam - the proper way, whatever that means. Good luck Ms. Mai, you'll need it.

sirius_sir said...

When she found out that the tribal council was meeting in a field outside of the village, Mai ran there, hoping to intervene on her brother’s behalf.

Why do I suspect that Mukhtar Mai was punished at least in part because of her impertinence in confronting the tribal council? Obviously, in their minds, this was a woman who needed to be put in her place.

Her courage amazes, not just the courage to persevere, but the courage to start what she must have known would be a dangerous journey. It speaks to her love for her brother as well, that she would unhesitatingly risk herself to try to save him.

She is beautiful, and it is an ugly culture that cannot appreciate her worth.

Kirk Parker said...

Uhh, Bill, did you miss the part about her father and imam? The fact that such people could be found, in the same rural area where this all happened, is exactly what you're looking for, isn't it?

Dymphna said...

kirk parker--

I echo your sentiments. Mai has found many supporters in her country. Her father's support was the crucial one, though. Without that, she would have had to die...as so many others have.

Blanket condemnation not only isn't true, it's a blunt instrument. It may feel good, but it accomplishes nothing.

Gumshoe--

The Baron likes your button! I think the mag ought to do up a bunch of them that simply have her picture -- the famous one, which is a slightly hidden profile -- and have it say "Glamour Girl." So un-p.c. So cool.

Mussolini said...

Kirk:

If she raises her children and teaches others to embrace Islamic Abrogation, yes.

All that is claimed is a softer side to Islamic treatment of women.

Non-believers would still be khafir. The Qur'an would still preach conversion or death. Sharia law still dominates.

So what's the point if this "be nicer to women" muslim still raises little murderers?

Islam is a justification for murder. It's a quasi religion. In effect, she's saying, "be nicer to us muslim women as we all kill infidels."

I applaud her efforts, but I have to question exactly what her intentions might be before I call her a good and wise hero.

Many muslim murderers are very charitable. Does that make them okay?

linearthinker said...

Bill:
Somehow I can't envision this Muhktar Mia raising little murderers or embracing the "we kill all infidels" jihadi party line. Perhaps you know more about her than I. Agreed she's still caught up in a quasi-religion that justifies murder, but your ranting comes perilously close to the folly of "Kill em all! Let God sort 'em out." Or is that your message? I've been searching for months for voices of moderation among muslims, ever since my comments to the Baron's post about nuking Mecca last summer. I'd about given up, and was poised to offer my own surrender on the subject of finding anything noble among muslims, until I read Dymphna's posts on Muhktar. Read this carefully. I don't defend anything about Islam, but answering them in kind is not where the solution lies. Noblesse Oblige, with a terrible swift sword if need be, but with the honor of clarity of purpose.

heather said...

She was supported by her father and the local imam.
I would bet that the imam is the old fashioned kind, NOT funded by the Saudis.

After 9/11, I saw a TV program about one of the murderers. He was a Somali. The local old time imam was interviewed: he was a little guy with lopsided turban. His congregation had been hijacked by the new style, well financed Wahhabi, who presented the locals with a glamourous new mosque... and all the money for this came from Saudi Arabia.

Mussolini said...

Linearthinker - Sometimes I come off that way - kill em all.

But there are considerations that are ignored when throwing around terms like "genocide." Genocide is a racial act. Islam transcends race. Eliminating Islam (which is what I'm for) is something more akin to a legal action.

Your quest for "moderate" muslims will only lead you to muslims who aren't very religious. That could mean peace now, until they age some and turn towards their god. People tend to move a little closer to god when the ends of their lives approach.

When your religion tells you that Islam is to be supreme and anyone who resists needs to be killed, then we have a social/religious problem. Islam is the only major religion that advocates killing unbelievers en masse, young, old, women, innocents...

Allowing the religion to remain allows for murderers to find religious justification for beheading children. Islam is a sick disease and needs to be outlawed. Mukhtar sounds like a very bad muslim, so I doubt she'd preach murder. But that's my point. What would stop her from becoming more religious?

I think your quest for "moderate" Islam is like trying to find and make friends with "moderate" bird-flu.

linearthinker said...

Bill:
Thanks for the reply. I think we have more in common than differences. Re my quest, I keep looking, but examples are damned few and far between...often isolated instances of a courageous individual like Muhktar. Your take on the "good ones" being "bad muslims" is interesting. Since I've abandoned trying to talk sense with liberals, maybe it's time to abandon this quest also. I'll keep looking, but at this point am not holding my breath.