Saturday, June 11, 2005

Justice undone

Two judges in Lahore have overturned the convictions of the men accused of gang-raping Pakistani schoolteacher Mukhtar Bibi. As hard as it is to turn our attention back to this utterly nauseating case of Islamic misogyny, it's worthwhile reviewing the details. Apologists for Islam who are wasting their outrage on the supposed desecration of a book should know how that book's law is applied.

Mukhtar Bibi's little brother was judged by a Pakistani panchayat (a tribal court of Islamic law) to have offended another family's honor by flirting with one of that family's young women. In fact he probably did no such thing, as there is evidence the trial was a cover to keep him from revealing that several members of the panchayat had raped him earlier in the day. The panchayat ruled that the boy's punishment would be the public gang rape of his older sister. Afterward, Mukhtar refused to shut up about it, and eventually drew enough attention that a court in Pakistan had no choice but to bite the bullet and apply a little moral justice. The men went to jail. I guess the cretins on the bench in Lahore think the west doesn't have the moral stamina to object to the rapists going free after serving less than a year. Sadly, they are probably correct.

This case was the subject of one of my first posts on this blog. That post links to an August, 2002 article from the Pakistani online journal Newsline that gives the more complete account of the case than you'll find in the western media. You can jump directly back to the post from March 8 here. The post's title will take you to the Newsline article.


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