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After Musharraf, it's Mukhtaran Mai's book

October 12, 2006 20:09 IST

After having brought out President Pervez Musharraf's memoirs, his American publisher is all set to release book by a Pakistani tribal woman Mukhtaran Mai, who was paraded naked after being gang raped in 2003 as a punishment ordered by a local elders' council.

Mai, who later emerged as the voice of women of Pakistan and even ruffled Musharraf's administration by campaigning for justice both at home and abroad, has written a book In the Name of Honour: A Memoir, which will be released on October 31 by the publisher Simon and Schuster.

The new book is already a best seller and has been translated into 20 languages, including Hindi and Hebrew, but surprisingly not in Urdu, The News daily reported.

Mai's book was first published in French language and translation rights have already been sold to Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, India, Holland, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Egypt, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, the US, Canada, and the UK.

Rights for a Turkish translation are being negotiated. It is the horrific tale of Mukhtaran Mai, the victim of a well-known gang rape. When the book was launched in Israel last month, full-page advertisements were published in almost all the newspapers with pictures of Mai.

Surprisingly, Simon and Schuster has not as yet succeeded in launching a book tour of Mukhtaran Mai in the US, as it did for Musharraf's book but friends of Mai are planning a private launch in mid-November when Glamour Magazine, which named Mai as the Women of the Year in 2005, will host a grand gala with top world women celebrities in attendance in New York.

The newspaper report said Simon and Schuster was not promoting Mai's book in the same manner as it did with Musharraf's memoir.

Mai's friends, who have talked to the publisher, maintained that Simon and Schuster denied there was any political pressure from Pakistan Government, it said.

The explanation given to them is that since TV channels decide who will come on and because Mukhtaran Mai does not speak English and would require a translator, many of the networks have decided that it is too complicated to bring her on, it said.

The publisher also thinks that Mai is not nearly as well known as Musharraf is, and her message is one of equality, of women's rights and of injustice.

The 172-page book recalls the gruesome tale of events that led to her gang rape and whatever happened thereafter, including the court cases and ever-changing attitude of the Pakistan government which became an international embarrassment for the country.

The foreword of the book has been written by famous New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, who says, "Mukhtaran Mai has taken a sordid tale of gang rape and turned it into something heart warming and hopeful.

"And that is one more reason why, when I'm around Mukhtaran, I sense that this shy peasant woman is truly a great and historic figure and why she's one of my heroes".

The book also displays a quote from American First Lady Laura Bush, who is quoted as saying "Mai proves that one woman really can change the world".

Kristof recalls the pressure put earlier by Islamabad on Mai, saying her mail was confiscated, her phones were tapped. The journalist said newspapers close to the government constantly published disparaging articles about her, suggesting that she was living it up abroad, or that she was an "unpatriotic" woman who allowed "herself to be used by foreigners and agents for India (like myself) to make Pakistan look bad".

Mai, in her remarks in the book, said, "I was born a Pakistani and will remain so. And I am traveling as a militant Pakistani woman, to help seek relief for my country, stricken by great misfortune.

"If through my strange destiny I can thus bring help to my country and its government, it will be a great honor for us. May God protect my mission".

Last year, she was among the 12 recipients of the United States Glamour magazine's Women of the Year award. While she has spoken at the United Nations, she is appearing in a documentary film Shame. Since Shame premiered at the 31st annual Toronto International Film Festival last month, it has been making waves through its combination of interviews interspersed with TV footage, explaining Mai's ordeal.
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