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Thread: Not a victim, but a hero

  1. #1
    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Not a victim, but a hero

    Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times
    Assiya Rafiq, right, in front of her mother, Iqbal Mai.

    After being kidnapped at the age of 16 by a group of thugs and enduring a year of rapes and beatings, Assiya Rafiq was delivered to the police and thought her problems were over.
    Then, she said, four police officers took turns raping her.
    The next step for Assiya was obvious: She should commit suicide. That’s the customary escape in rural Pakistan for a raped woman, as the only way to cleanse the disgrace to her entire family.
    Instead, Assiya summoned the unimaginable courage to go public and fight back. She is seeking to prosecute both her kidnappers and the police, despite threats against her and her younger sisters. This is a kid who left me awed and biting my lip; this isn’t a tale of victimization but of valor, empowerment and uncommon heroism.
    “I decided to prosecute because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anybody else,” she said firmly.
    Assiya’s case offers a window into the quotidian corruption and injustice endured by impoverished Pakistanis — leading some to turn to militant Islam.
    “When I treat a rape victim, I always advise her not to go to the police,” said Dr. Shershah Syed, the president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan. “Because if she does, the police might just rape her again.”

    Yet Assiya is also a sign that change is coming. She says she was inspired by Mukhtar Mai, a young woman from this remote village of Meerwala who was gang raped in 2002 on the orders of a village council. Mukhtar prosecuted her attackers and used the compensation money to start a school.
    Mukhtar is my hero. Many Times readers who followed her story in past columns of mine have sent her donations through a fund at Mercy Corps, at www.mercycorps.org, and Mukhtar has used the money to open schools, a legal aid program, an ambulance service, a women’s shelter, a telephone hotline — and to help Assiya fight her legal case.
    The United States has stood aloof from the ubiquitous injustices in Pakistan, and that’s one reason for cynicism about America here. I’m hoping the Obama administration will make clear that Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with heroines like Mukhtar and Assiya, and with an emerging civil society struggling for law and social justice.
    Assiya’s saga began a year ago when a woman who was a family friend sold her to two criminals who had family ties to prominent politicians. Assiya said the two men spent the next year beating and raping her.
    The men were implicated in a gold robbery, so they negotiated a deal with the police in the town of Kabirwala, near Khanewal: They handed over Assiya, along with a $625 bribe, in exchange for the police pinning the robbery on the girl.
    By Assiya’s account, which I found completely credible, four police officers, including a police chief, took turns beating and raping her — sometimes while she was tied up — over the next two weeks. A female constable obligingly stepped out whenever the men wanted access to Assiya.

    Assiya’s family members heard that she was in the police station, and a court granted their petition for her release and sent a bailiff to get her out. The police hid Assiya, she said, and briefly locked up her 10-year-old brother to bully the family into backing off.
    The bailiff accepted bribes from both the family and the police, but in the end he freed the girl. Assiya, driven by fury that overcame her shame, told her full story to the magistrate, who ordered a medical exam and an investigation. The medical report confirms that Assiya’s hymen had been broken and that she had abrasions all over her body.
    The morning I met Assiya, she said she had just received the latest in a series of threats from the police: Unless she withdraws her charges, they will arrest, rape or kill her — and her two beloved younger sisters.
    The family is in hiding. It has lost its livelihood and accumulated $2,500 in debts. Assiya’s two sisters and three brothers have had to drop out of school, and they will find it harder to marry because Assiya is considered “dishonored.” Most of her relatives tell Assiya that she must give in. But she tosses her head and insists that she will prosecute her attackers to spare other girls what she endured.
    (For readers who want to help, more information is available on my blog at: www.nytimes.com/ontheground.)
    Assiya’s mother, Iqbal Mai, told me that in her despair, she at first had prayed that God should never give daughters to poor families. “But then I changed my mind,” she added, with a hint of pride challenging her fears. “God should give poor people daughters like Assiya who will fight.”
    Amen.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/op...stof.html?_r=1

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    Elite Member sparkly's Avatar
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    Oh my god. I don't even know what to say. This is so deep and intense I haven't the words to say how I feel.

    Let's just hope she's victorious and is able to live her life in peace.
    Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege.

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    Wow her family is amazing! I'm so glad to hear they somewhat support her. I wish there was a way to help them financially obviously they need the help.

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    Elite Member Soth's Avatar
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    Im so sick of the hero definition being thrown at sports stars - this though defies belief....just amazing
    I'm using a lot of oxygen and such — I think it's good use of oxygen myself, but of course, I'm a little prejudiced on the matter.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    OMG. This is so heartbreaking.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    wonder what we would do if our beliefs and freedoms were put to that sort of a test? such a fearless woman not to cave.

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    What a brave couragous kid, and bugger me, what a strong mother too!


    Quote Originally Posted by Honey View Post
    Assiya’s mother, Iqbal Mai, told me that in her despair, she at first had prayed that God should never give daughters to poor families. “But then I changed my mind,” she added, with a hint of pride challenging her fears. “God should give poor people daughters like Assiya who will fight.”
    Free Charmed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryk View Post
    Wow her family is amazing! I'm so glad to hear they somewhat support her. I wish there was a way to help them financially obviously they need the help.
    You can the details are here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey View Post
    Mukhtar is my hero. Many Times readers who followed her story in past columns of mine have sent her donations through a fund at Mercy Corps, at www.mercycorps.org, and Mukhtar has used the money to open schools, a legal aid program, an ambulance service, a women’s shelter, a telephone hotline — and to help Assiya fight her legal case.

    (For readers who want to help, more information is available on my blog at: www.nytimes.com/ontheground.)

    Update

    July 28, 2009, 1:15 pm An Update on Assiya

    By Nicholas Kristof After my Sunday column on Assiya Rafiq, the teenage girl who is trying to prosecute the police in Pakistan who raped her, an update. First, many, many of you donated money through Mercy Corps to the Mukhtar Mai fund (a total of $75,000 so far), and some of that was stipulated for Assiya. (The way to make the stipulation is in the comment screen toward the end of the checkout procedure.)
    The U.S. State Department (thanks to Hillary Clinton or Richard Holbrooke?) has also reached out. In the past, the consular missions in Pakistan have not had much interaction with Mukhtar (while the Canadians and Swiss have). But right after my column, the U.S. Consulate in Lahore immediately contacted Mukhtar, and she and a team went to Lahore to meet a senior US diplomat there, who promised to try to help. That kind of thing truly helps: just an inquiry from a foreign diplomat makes it harder for police in a remote town to get away with raping or killing people they don’t like. The Pakistani press has also provided some coverage of the case and of my column.
    In addition, Mukhtar has hired two lawyers to help Assiya and has hidden the girl and her entire family in a place where it will be harder for the police to find them and kidnap them. I’m hoping that Assiya and her younger brothers and sisters will be able to go back to school, with the funds provided by readers, and get a good education. I told Assiya that if she shows the same passion for education that she shows for justice, she’ll end up as one of her country’s leading human rights lawyers.
    All that said, the situation remains dangerous for Assiya and Mukhtar alike. Too many people want to kill them, and they’re not getting serious protection from the Pakistani authorities.
    Free Charmed.

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    Gold Member atrayubrandy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update.
    Beneath the sun of summer a sea of flowers won't bloom without the rain.

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    Elite Member Wiseguy's Avatar
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    What an incredibly courageous, inspirational young woman. She is my hero.

    I wonder if some of the money raised can help to get this family out of Pakistan to keep them safe? I hold grave fears for their safety. It says they are hidden, but I worry about bribery money being used to find them.

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    Elite Member TonjaLasagna's Avatar
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    Wish I could visit with Assiya Rafiq and talk with her.
    I'd like to locate those policemen, including the female constable that looked the other way, and put a bullet through their hearts
    "the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone"

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    I know this isn't much but here's a cause devoted to her on facebook:

    Causes on Facebook | Help support this couragous woman, Assiya Rafiq

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