Mukhtaran Mai: Waiting in vain

Published: April 22, 2011
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For Mukhtaran Mai, then, the long wait for justice has been unfulfilling.

Let’s please not dump all our grievances about the Supreme Court’s verdict on Mukhtaran Mai’s appeal (of a Lahore High Court verdict) on our esteemed and independent judiciary. If you’re going to hate on something, you may as well spread it around – after all, the entire legal system in Pakistan is plagued with flaws to pick at and ponder.

This is reflected well in the Supreme Court’s judgement on the Mukhtaran Mai issue. In it, among other things, the court sees fit to spend an inordinate amount of time on quibbles that relate to the likes of Section 354-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, which states that a crime has occurred “if woman during assault is stripped naked in public”. It is terribly important, for some reason, for the court to discuss whether Mukhtaran Mai was handed her shalwar inside the room where the rape occurred, or whether the shalwar was thrown at her after she was pushed out of the room (whether a crime has been committed or not depends on the sequence of these events, after all). And so on and so forth.

Despite our indignation though, let us try to be fair.

Was the case fairly convoluted?

Yes.

Did the facts take a while to come to light?

Yes.

All this does not, however, lessen the feeling that justice has not been done.

Most of us are raised to believe that a crime is a crime, irrespective of whatever loopholes you can find in the law. But we rarely see this translated into reality — for things to change, every law pertaining to women would have to be altered. Scientific evidence would have to be collected meticulously. In fact, our whole attitude towards women would have to undergo a seismic shift.

For Mukhtaran Mai, then, the long wait for justice has been unfulfilling. It has not been entirely in vain — for one of the persons accused is still in custody and will serve a long prison sentence — but so much more could have been done for her, and for women like her all over Pakistan.

Hamna Zubair

Hamna Zubair

The writer is a former staffer of The Express Tribune and currently pursuing a post-graduate degree in creative writing at The New School, New York.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.