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June 15, 2005

Mukhtaran Bibi in custody

In 2002, Mukhtaran Bibi was sentenced to be raped because of some alleged transgression by her brother. She was raped, but instead of committing suicide (as custom obliged her to do) she took her attackers to court, sent them to jail, and received a compensation package. Ms. Bibi, who had never been to school herself, used the money to start schools in her rural community.

Yesterday, Tom Watson announced Ms. Bibi had been had been illegally arrested after being invited to address human rights activists in the U.S. Bibi's house arrest coincided with the court-ordered release of her rapists.

The story has attracted worldwide media attention, including this New York Times column byNick Kristof.

Now, according Kristof, the Pakistani government may close to relenting:

10:36 AM ET June 15, 2005:

The Mukhtaran Bibi case is still foggy, because she is still being detained by the authorities and denied permission to telephone her friends freely. But the government does seem to be caving.

On Tuesday, the government trotted her out to a press conference. She dutifully said that she did not want to go abroad and that in any case her mother was sick and so she couldn’t. But then she also told some of the reporters who could understand her dialect (her native language is siraiki, and she also speaks some Punjabi, but no real urdu) that she was being forced to say this, and that she was being held against her will. In the meantime, her mother told reporters that she’s in fine health and that Mukhtaran is being imprisoned and wants to go abroad.

Then on Tuesday evening, the prime minister of Pakistan apparently called Mukhtaran, presumably to say the government was relenting. It has now taken her off the “exit control list,” and she reportedly has been taken to the US embassy, perhaps to get a visa. She still hasn’t been allowed contact with her friends, but some think that the government is now just going to wash its hands of the mess and let her go back to her village or just take her to the airport and put her on a plane out.

This is an encouraging development, but it is important to keep the pressure on.

Please contact these officials and tell them politely but adamantly what you think of the Musharraf regime's treatment of Mukhtaran Bibi.

His Excellency Mr. Jehangir Karamat ambassador@embassyofpakistan.org

Mr Mohammad Sadiq is Deputy Chief of Mission and assists the Ambassador in the overall functioning of the Embassy. He deals with both political and administrative issues. dcmsadiq@embassyofpakistan.org

Mr Aslam Khan is Minister (Political) and deals with political issues minpol@embassyofpakistan.org

Mr Shahid Ahmed is Counsellor Community Affairs and deals with the Pakistani community in the United States. shahidahmed@embassyofpakistan.org

Brig Shafqaat Ahmed is the Defence & Military Attache of the Pakistan Embassy. da@embassyofpakistan.org

Mr Ashraf Hayat is the Minister (Trade) and deals with Pakistan-US trade issues. commercialsection@embassyofpakistan.org & compk@rcn.com

Mrs Talat Waseem is the Press Minister and Media Spokesperson of the Embassy pressinfodiv@embassyofpakistan.org

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Comments

Screenwriter's...attention!

Over the last two decades I've spent more time over-seas than in the US and there is one thing that has distressed me greatly... women who either dis or are ambivalent about the women's movement in the US.

Some are turned off by the man-haters and some just aren't really concerned because it doesn't seem to effect them. But conditions abroad are really much worse than they realize because in a substantial number of countries women are chattel. They get burned for doweries, sold into brothels by poor families in asia, dumped on the street to starve in China, have clitoral circumcisions in arab countries, honor killings for leaving the house without a chaparone and murdered without penalty to the murderers.

American women are watched by the rest of the world and have more influence than they know.

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