Though the usual result of such "honor" crimes is the suicide of the young woman, or even her killing by her own family, Mukhtaran Mai dared to bring charges in court. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan supported her case, and it gained crucial international publicity. Eventually, four men and two tribal elders were convicted in anti-terrorism courts.
With money she received from the government and international donors who read about her struggle, she started two schools in her village--one for girls and one for boys. About 250 girls now attend the school. It is her belief that oppression can only end with education. Mai, illiterate when she opened the schools, has learned to read and become a national organizer and international symbol of the struggle against violence inflicted on human beings simply because they were born female.
Mai's most recent efforts are to help the thousands of people left homeless after an earthquake devastated parts of Pakistan on Oct. 8. To find out more about that effort as well the school she started in the village of Meerwala, or to send donations, visit the Web site of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights at www.4anaa.org, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send contributions to ANAA, P.O. Box 628454, Middleton, WI 53562.