Raped Woman Allowed to Leave Pakistan

After significant international pressure, the Pakistani government has removed travel restrictions it had placed on the survivor of an infamous gang rape. Government officials had placed Mukhtaran Bibi on its Exit Control List (ECL)—a measure typically implemented to control political opponents. Pakistani prime minister Shaukat Aziz told The Guardian that the move was a ‘security measure’ intended to protect her from threats against her life after a court discharged 12 men linked to the crime. Christina Rocca, the assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, presented the US position, telling the Guardian, “We are dismayed at the treatment being meted out to a courageous woman, Mukhtaran Bibi, who is herself a victim of a horrendous crime and is being denied the right to travel and to tell her story.”

In June 2002, Bibi was gang raped on the order of a council of tribal leaders as punishment for disgrace caused by her brother’s alleged “illicit affair” with a woman of a higher tribal class. Four men, including a member of the court, raped Bibi before hundreds of spectators in the village of Meerwala. Afterwards, the girl was forced to return home naked. Bibi gained international recognition for coming forward publicly after the attack, despite receiving death threats, in an effort to urge the government to help her receive justice. Human rights activists have been pressing Pakistani authorities to strip the tribal councils of their powers for years.

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CNN 6/14/05, Reuters 6/14/05, BBC 6/14/05, The Guardian 6/13/05, New York Times 6/14/05, New York Times 6/16/05

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