UN censors rape victim

The heroic Mukhtar Mai is exploited by the Bushes for war propaganda—then sold down the river by the UN to appease Pakistan. Did the US protest this cynical capitulation? We doubt it. From the New York Times, via India’s Deccan Herald, Jan. 22:

Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman whose defiant response to being gangraped by order of a tribal court had brought her worldwide attention, was denied a chance to speak at the United Nations on Friday when Pakistan protested that it was the same day the country’s prime minister was visiting.

Ms Mai had long been scheduled to make an appearance called ‘An Interview With Mukhtar Mai: The Bravest Woman on Earth’ in the United Nations television studios, which was sponsored by the office for non-governmental organisations, the Virtue Foundation and the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights.

But on Thursday night, the organisers were informed that the programme would have to be postponed because of Pakistan’s objections. Ms Mai was leaving New York on Saturday so the effect was to cancel her appearance. Asked at a news conference why Pakistan had taken the action, the country’s Prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, said: “I have no idea. You have informed me and so have some other people as I was walking in. I don’t know how the place functions.” The Pakistani Mission also did not return calls seeking comment.

In 2002, a village council had sentenced Ms Mai to be gang-raped for the supposed misconduct of her brother. Pakistani women in such circumstances often commit suicide, but Ms Mai instead successfully challenged her rapists in court.

On a previous visit to New York in November, Ms Mai, also known as Mukhtaran Bibi, had been hailed in a video tribute by Laura Bush at a Lincoln Center banquet as a person who “proves that one woman really can change the world”.

Asked why the United Nations had bowed to the Pakistani protest, Shashi Tharoor, the under secretary general for communications, said that he could not comment on this specific case.

But, he said: “As a general principle, indeed there are written instructions guiding the holding of any event on UN premises in which we are obliged to take into account the views formally expressed by member states.”

See our last post on Pakistan and women’s struggles in that nation.