Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Rosa Parks for the 21st Century

What an amazing woman and story!  Kudos to Kristof for telling it so well!
Mukhtaran turned a tale of gang rape into something that is actually inspiring.

The world lost Rosa Parks last month, but Mukhtaran is a Rosa Parks for the new century: a woman simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary, who transcended her role and started a broad movement for justice. The most pressing moral challenge today is to overcome the brutality and inequality faced by women and girls in the developing world, and Mukhtaran has become a leader of that struggle. I hope that we'll follow her, and that the U.S. will align itself with real Pakistani leaders like her.

I especially love this part:

After prosecuting the rapists, Mukhtaran used the compensation money of $8,300 to start schools in her village because she thinks that education is the best way to overcome feudal attitudes. Girls from surrounding areas hike up to two hours each way to attend the school.

When I first met Mukhtaran, in her village, she was running out of money to keep the schools operating, her enemies were biding their time to murder her, and she was lonely and frightened - and unwavering.

Times readers responded with a torrent of contributions, more than $130,000, and Mukhtaran has used the money to improve the schools and "endow" them by buying cows, which will generate income to pay expenses.


The Rosa Parks for the 21st Century
Published: November 8, 2005

She may be the bravest woman in the world, but Mukhtaran Bibi was finally looking intimidated.

Mukhtaran is the Pakistani peasant woman who was gang-raped on the order of a local council, and then forced to walk home nearly naked before a jeering crowd. Instead of killing herself, as rape victims routinely do in such places, she prosecuted her attackers and became a women's rights leader in Pakistan.


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