«She has become a symbol of resistance and defiance in the country,» says Farzana Bari, a leading women rights activist who has worked closely with Mukhtaran Mai. «For the women’s movement, her case is significant as she is showing the cruel face of a system which considers women as property.»
«I pray to God to get justice as my victory will be the victory of suppressed and oppressed women,» says Mai. «God forbid if I lose. Then it will be a defeat for everyone who believes in social justice.»
«I want to see girls of peasants study and make their own identities rather than being caught in the vicious cycle of this feudal system,» she says. «I am at peace whenever I see them studying.»
Mai also lends a hand to other victimized women, to whom she has become a hero. Though she has helped embolden women in Pakistan, the fragile women’s movement has a long road ahead. During seven months last year, 151 Pakistani women were gang-raped and 176 were murdered, victims of the centuries-old tribal custom of honor killings, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.