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Pak rape victim to address meet in US over phone

June 30, 2005 20:36 IST

A gang rape victim, who was earlier barred by the Pakistani government from travelling to the United States to speak about her ordeal at a women's conference, will now address the meet over telephone on July 2.

Thirty four-year-old Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang raped in 2002 on the order of a village council in Punjab province as a punishment for her brother's alleged affair with a woman from an influential rival clan, will address the conference of the Asian-American Network Against Abuse of Women over phone.

Besides Mai, Shazia Khalid, a lady doctor whose rape in Pakistan's southern Baluchistan province in 2004 sparked tribal clashes, will address the meet over phone from London, local daily Dawn reported on Thursday.

Two days ago, Pakistan's Supreme Court quashed the judgement of the lower courts acquitting the 13 accused in Mai's rape case and ordered their re-arrest.

On Wednesday, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, while clarifying his stand on Mai's travel, said he planned to organise an international conference of rape victims to work out remedies to deal with their trauma.

Meanwhile, Khalid, who has migrated to Britain, said she was still terrified to speak about her ordeal, which led to a violent confrontation between Baloch tribesmen and security forces.

"I was threatened so many times in Pakistan that I still feel scared," she told the BBC Urdu service, speaking about the incident for the first time since leaving Pakistan.

"I cannot tell you how many times I was threatened. My life was made impossible. I am still terrified," Khalid said, adding she had never been satisfied with the inquiry conducted by the government into the incident.

"My whole career was destroyed, as was my husband's. That was why we left our country. Instead of getting justice, I was hounded out of Pakistan. I never wanted to leave Pakistan, but I had no choice," said Khalid, who was employed at a hospital managed by Pakistan Petroleum, the state-owned supplier of natural gas in Sui where she was raped.

"My case led to so much death and destruction in Baluchistan. So many children died because the doctors couldn't reach the hospitals during those violent times," she said.

The government has denied that Khalid suffered any harassment from any quarter.

Reacting to the allegations, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid claimed that the lady doctor was sent out of the country by non governmental organisations.

About her latest interview, Rashid was quoted by the Online news agency as saying that allegations about threats received by her were baseless.

He said Khalid herself wanted to go abroad. Rashid also called for setting up a commission by the international media to review the cases of Khalid and Mai. He said he would like to know which 'vested interests' had kept Khalid quiet for so long.


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