Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mukhar Mai's book

"I have a message to the women of the world and all the women who have been raped or any [other] kind of violation: that, no matter what, they must talk about it and they must fight for justice." – Mukhtar Mai, author of In the Name of Honor

A Memoir
Mukhtar Mai

In June, 2002, Mukhtar Mai, an impoverished Pakistani woman, was publicly gang-raped as retribution for the alleged transgressions of her pre-adolescent brother. This painful initiation sparked Mai’s transformation from a silent member of an oppressive society to a powerful leader in the fight for women’s rights and a role model for women around the world. For the first time in the United States , her story is being published in its entirety in her own utterly engaging words.

Humiliated and shamed after her trauma, Mukhtar Mai thought her only recourse was suicide. She even determined how she would take her own life (“I will swallow acid…to put out forever the fire of shame that torments my family and me”). But after Mai’s mother begged her to forego her plans, her anger and thirst for justice propelled her to discard the silent submission she had always been taught. She began using her voice to speak out about the injustices of the Pakistani legal system and in so doing attracted the attention of journalists and human rights organizations around the world. For three years and through many twists and turns of the legal system, Mai kept telling her story--all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In the Name of Honor recounts every step of the process that finally resulted in the conviction of her tormentors, including how Mai used the international support she received to start a school in her village and to help other Pakistani women who were raped, kidnapped, and threatened with murder. By telling her story, Mai offers many important insights into how to bring about change:

Anger Has Its Purpose

“When I begin this journey into the legal system, a path from which there is no turning back, I’m hampered by my illiteracy and my status as a woman. Aside from my family, I have only one strength to call upon: my outrage.”

Coping with the Seemingly Impossible

“I’d had no idea that speaking about one’s pain, about a secret that feels shameful, can set both mind and body free.”

Furthering the Cause of Women

“Despising men is not the way to win respect. The solution is to try to fight them as equals.”

The Healing Power of Dissent

“I have no intention of leaving my village, my house, my family, and my school. Neither do I have any desire to give Pakistan a bad name abroad. Quite on the contrary, by defending my right to be a human being, I’m convinced that I am supporting the political wishes of my country.”

Creating Hope for the Future

“Knowledge must be given to girls, and as soon as possible before their mothers bring them up the same way they were raised themselves.”

In the Name of Honor is an utterly riveting account of one woman’s triumph over hundreds of years of female oppression, and a stirring tribute to the power each person has to change her circumstances, and the world, for the better.

Mukhtar Mai runs and attends a school for girls in Meerwala, the small and impoverished village where she was raised in the Muzaffargarh District of Pakistan . She has also started a school for boys in Meerwala. In August, 2005 Mai was awarded the Fatima Jinnah gold medal for courage by the Pakistani government. And in November, 2005, Glamour Magazine named her Woman of the Year.

Nicholas D. Kristof, a multiple Pulitzer-prize winning columnist for the New York Times, is renowned for his coverage of the Tiananmen Square student protests in China and the genocide in Darfur. He was instrumental in bringing the world’s attention to Maukhtar Mai’s case, and contributed the foreword to this book.

In the Name of Honor: A Memoir
Atria, October 2006 Hardcover, 192 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4165-3228- 5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-3228- 6