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Victim in Rape Case Alleges Travel Ban

June 12, 2005|From Associated Press

MULTAN, Pakistan — A Pakistani woman who said she was gang-raped on orders from a village council asked the government Saturday to lift restrictions on her movement.

Mukhtar Mai, 36, said she had been added, without explanation, to a government list of people who may not leave Pakistan.

"Now, police deployed at my home for my protection are not allowing me to go anywhere," Mai said by phone from Meerwala, a village near Multan in eastern Punjab province where she lives with her family. "I demand that all restrictions on my movement be lifted so that I could travel to Islamabad to meet with my lawyer."

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Mai was raped in 2002 to punish her family after her brother was accused of having an illicit affair with a woman from another family. Her comments came a day after a court in the eastern city of Lahore ordered the release of 12 men detained in March in connection with the assault.

Thirteen men were held in June 2002 after Mai came forward and told of her ordeal. In August 2002, six suspects were sentenced to death and the others acquitted.

But in March of this year, another court overturned the convictions of five men and reduced the death sentence of the sixth to life in prison, causing an outcry from domestic and international human rights groups.

Police re-arrested all 13 men, who have been jailed since March on an order that will expire this week. A review board of the Lahore High Court has denied a government request for a three-month extension, court official Mohammed Shahid said.

The man whose sentence was reduced to life in prison will remain jailed despite the ruling.

Mai has said she will appeal the decision.

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