Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani rape victim, is to receive a “Woman Of the Year” award today from the US magazine Glamour.
The 31-year-old Punjabi villager will also receive $20,000 (£11,350) at a ceremony in New York’s Lincoln Centre alongside 11 other nominees including Catherine Zeta-Jones.
“This is a story that I think is going to shock everyone who hears it,” said Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour.
Mukhtaran, also known as Mukhtar Mai, shot to prominence three years ago for her court testimony against neighbours who gang-raped her on the orders of a council of elders. The rape sparked international outrage and a legal saga that is now before Pakistan’s supreme court, where 13 men could face the death penalty. US media and civil rights groups have showered Mukhtaran, who is barely literate, with plaudits since she arrived from Lahore last week.
She has given talks in Chicago and Washington and was named “person of the week” by ABC news. The New York Daily News described her as Pakistan’s answer to Rosa Parks, the civil rights pioneer who died last month.
Glamour magazine’s previous women of the year include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, pop star Britney Spears and actor Ellen DeGeneres. Former president Bill Clinton will present the award, the BBC reported. Mukhtaran’s case has embarrassed the Pakistani establishment whose attempts to silence her have only fuelled more publicity.
An earlier attempt to visit the US last June was blocked by President Pervez Musharraf, who told reporters she would “bad-mouth” Pakistan’s image abroad. Her passport was returned after protests.
But Mr Musharraf became mired in controversy again in September with claims that rape had become a “money-making concern” in Pakistan. Mukhtaran has promised to give $5,000 of her prize money towards earthquake relief; the remainder will be spent on schools and a women’s shelter.
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