The story of Pakistani rape survivor Mukhtar Mai comes to the big screen


Variety is reporting that Kátia Lund, co-director of City of God (2002) will write and direct a film about Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who endured a tribal council-sanctioned gang rape and fought back against the system. The film will be produced by Jay Roach (Recount) and Jennifer Perini (Smother).

Roach told Variety, "Kátia wrote a treatment, we took it to every studio, and they all found it inspiring but couldn’t imagine financing it." They finally did find funding via a partnership with ARY Digital (Pakistan’s first independent TV network) and Passport Capital.

Mai’s story made headlines around the world in 2002. After her adolescent brother was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman from another clan, a tribal council ordered that Mai be publicly gang-raped as punishment in order to shame her family. Variety writes, "While most victims of this authorized crime commit suicide rather than exist as a pariah, Mai fought back."

The Pakistani government got involved with the case, charges were filled against the attackers, and Mai became a symbol of strength and progress for Pakistani women.

As a result of Mai’s case, Pakistani laws regarding the prosecution of rape were changed and the Protection of Women Bill was signed by in 2006.

Mai went on to write a memoir about her experience (Déshonorée or In the Name of Honor: A Memoir) which has been published in 23 languages. She was awarded the Fatima Jinnah gold medal for bravery and courage by the Pakistani government, as well as the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe for her contribution to human rights.

Mai also began working to promote education about "honor crimes," and from her work evolved Mukhtar Mai Women’s Welfare Organization, whose goals include educating local communities about women’s rights and gender issues, encouraging girls to stay in school instead of go to work or get married, and providing shelter and legal help for victims of violence or injustice.

Though it will likely be a grueling film to watch, is Mai’s story a film you would see?

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