3 Heroic Women
On December 2012, the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old female physiotherapy intern in India has caught worldwide attention and it has changed the women in India forever. Women in India are now taking big steps to get their voices heard.
In countries like India, Pakistan, Cambodia and Africa, many rape cases goes unreported. Women are afraid to report of the crime as they are still being treated as second class citizens. However, there are now a number of women, who survived such ordeal, stepping up and making themselves heard by the public. These women not only fought for their own lives, but have dedicated their life in saving other women who have been victimised.
Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped when she was 28 in 2002 because her 12-year-old brother was wrongly accused. She did not commit suicide as expected but instead, went to fight for justice. Today, she is still fighting for women’s rights in Pakistan and becoming an inspiration to many around the world. She established Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organization (http://www.mukhtarmai.org/) and dedicate her life to defend women’s rights, including the rights for education, in the Southern region of Punjab Province.
For her case, six men were sentenced to death but in 2011, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned all the convictions except for one. The rest of the men were freed.
Believing that the lack of education was the cause for the unfair treatment to women, she set up a girl’s school with no outside funding for the first 3 years. Today, the Mukhtar Mai Girl’s Model School offers free education to 550 girls from nursery to the beginning of high school. The school still seek funding.
Her memoir, “In the Name of Honor“, was published in 2006 and has been translated into 23 languages.
One of the most recognised victim is probably Somaly Mam, an acclaimed activist. Her memoir “The Road of Lost Innocence “captured her detailed life experience . She was sold into sexual slavery since 12 and eventually to a brothel where she is forced into prostitution. She was beaten, tortured, raped and forced to watch her friend being viciously murdered.
In 1993, she managed to escape and fled Cambodia . Instead of spending her new-found life in France, which is what most victims would do, she went back to Cambodia and dedicate her life to save victims who suffered the same fate that she did.
In 1996, she founded AFESIP (Acting for Women in Distressing Situations), a Cambodian NGO dedicated to rescuing, housing and rehabilitating women and children. Mam has saved thousands of women from sexual slavery.
In June 2007, Mam co-founded the Somaly Mam Foundation (http://www.somaly.org ), a non profit organization formed in the United States that supports anti-trafficking groups.
In Nuba Mountain village in Sudan, Mende Nazer was captured at 12, separated from her parents and sold into slavery. For 6 dark years of enslavement, she was subjected to appalling physical, sexual and mental abuse. She was later sold as a household servant to a Sudanese diplomat in London where she managed to escape and eventually granted a refugee status.
She has written a book Slave : My True Story by Mende Nazer which spawned a theater production and a film, in addition to founding the Mende Nazer Foundation. (http://www.mendenazer.org/ )
Text by: Paul Khor
*Images sourced from Google Images
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