MULTAN, Pakistan – A Pakistani gang-rape victim who shunned custom and rose to global fame by speaking out about her case has defied another local taboo — she just got married.
Mukhtar Mai is now the second wife of Nasir Abbas Gabol, a police officer who was assigned to protect her as her case gained notoriety. He said she was reluctant to accept his offer and that he threatened suicide when she turned him down.
Mai was gang raped at the order of a tribal council in the eastern province of Punjab in 2002 to punish her family for her brother's alleged affair with a woman from a higher-caste family. There were also allegations that the boy had been molested by members of the other family, and that the accusations of the affair were used to cover up the crime.
Rape victims in Pakistan face severe social stigma and diminished marriage prospects, prompting many to commit suicide. But Mai went public and challenged her alleged attackers in court, attracting international attention and becoming a women's rights activist.
She was named Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year, and now runs a school in her southern Punjab province village of Meerwala. The case against her attackers is still in the court system.
Mai told AP Television News after the nuptials that she'd never completely ruled out marriage.
"When you do marriage you have to have faith in your partner," she said.
Her new husband told the AP on Wednesday that he was enraptured by Mai's "extreme courage."
"I will do whatever is possible to help my wife in her efforts aimed at raising her voice for the rights of women," he said.
Mai initially refused his offer because Gabol was already married and discouraged him from divorcing his first wife. Pakistan is a majority Muslim nation, and Islamic law allows men to have up to four wives.
Gabol said he was so desperate to marry Mai that he threatened to kill himself unless she relented. Fearing he would carry out his threat, Gabol's first wife met with Mai and persuaded her to marry.
The wedding took place Sunday and a reception is planned for the weekend.