Philobiblon: A Monday morning inspiration

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Monday morning inspiration

The New York Times has just run a long portrait of Mukhtar Mai, the Pakistani woman who, having spoken out against her own gang rape, has become a magnet for similar victims, who she is trying to help, while also running a girls' school and campaigning to change the position of women within her tribal society.

Every day, poor and desperate women and girls with tear-smudged cheeks arrive in this remote and impoverished village, seeking sanctuary. Every night, up to a dozen of them sleep on the floor in Mukhtar's bedroom beside her. (She has given her bed to the principal of the girls' elementary school she started here.)
One visitor is a lovely 7-year-old girl who breaks down in huge, heartbreaking sobs as she tells how the servant of a rich family raped her, and how the rich family then threatened to kill her and her family unless she recanted her accusation.
Then there's Fauzia Bibi, a 30-year-old who was raped and tortured by eight men for two days to punish her family because her uncle supposedly had an affair with a woman from their clan. The attackers are threatening to kill her entire
family unless she recants.
Inspired by Mukhtar, these women are standing their ground. They are risking their lives -- and, in anguish, those of their loved ones -- to prosecute their attackers. It's a lesson in courage and civics I'll never forget.

OK - it is a bit heavy on the melodrama, but there is a wonderful story to tell. The NYT has hidden the story behind a paywall but it is interesting that it has been picked up by the Pakistani Daily Times. A demonstration of how Western journalists can sometimes make a difference.
An interesting piece about the environment which suggests that greens should stop talking about saving the planet and start talking about saving the human race. We might manage to wipe out most of the vertebrates, but the microbes and the insects are pretty much human-proof, and no matter how much of a mess we make, they'll carry on.


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