Slideshow: Mukhtar Mai - Giving hope to women in Pakistan

New York Times
Publication Date: 
November, 2008

This is a slideshow of women and girls who have sought refuge in women's shelters in Pakistan set up by activist Mukhtar Mai.

Shahnaz Bibi, left, a woman staying in a women's shelter founded by Mukhtar Mai. The women in Mukhtar's shelter are extraordinary, partly because in a culture where women are supposed to be weak, they are indomitable.


Shahnaz, veiled on the street, insisted on prosecuting the men who kidnapped and gang-raped her. She still receives death threats for her actions.


Sajida Bibi, who escaped to Mukhtar Mai's women's shelter, teaching a first grade class. She is a college-educated woman who fled home after having scandalized her family for marrying a man she had chosen herself. After becoming pregnant, she was held down and forced to have an abortion.


Sajida in Mukhtar Mai's women's shelter. After her forced abortion, her eldest brother wanted to sell her to a trafficker, presumably intending to imprison her inside a brothel. The other two brothers wanted to kill her. So, she ground sleeping pills into their chapati bread, and then sneaked out as they slept.


Students doing morning exercises at Mukhtar's girls' school. Mukhtar's aid group has expanded from having one school to having four, with 900 students, as well as an ambulance service, a school bus, a woman's shelter, a legal clinic and a telephone hot line and women's crisis center.

Photo: Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times