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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 11:31 GMT
Pakistan rape victim speaks in US
Mukhtar Mai
Ms Mai says she will fight her battles inside Pakistan
Pakistan gang rape victim Mukhtar Mai has told rights activists in the US of her battle against "feudal lords" oppressing women in her homeland.

Amnesty International introduced Ms Mai at Washington offices "not as a victim, but as a champion for women's rights".

Ms Mai shot to world attention after her rape in 2002, allegedly on the order of a village council in Pakistan.

On her US visit she will receive a magazine's Woman of the Year award presented by ex-President Bill Clinton.

Ms Mai told assembled rights activists through an interpreter: "I am fighting a fight against oppression, where women and the poor are oppressed... by feudal lords.

"They have power and money, and all I have is you and your support. God willing, truth will have victory."

Travel ban

Ms Mai said her rape and the subsequent court battle would not force her out of her homeland.

"I think that the fight can be fought only by living in Pakistan. You cannot fight by leaving."

President Musharraf
President Musharraf ordered then rescinded a travel ban

On Tuesday Ms Mai will attend a congressional hearing on human rights as a special witness.

On Wednesday she will receive the Glamour magazine Woman of the Year award and a prize of $20,000.

Ms Mai, 36, has said she will give $5,000 to the relief programme for victims of the 8 October earthquake and the rest will fund schools and a women's crisis centre.

Ms Mai's trip to the US has been controversial.

Earlier this year, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf banned her from travelling abroad because he feared her visit might "tarnish" Pakistan's image.

He rescinded the ban after criticism from US officials and rights activists.

Ms Mai has an appeal pending in the Pakistan's Supreme Court against a high court order to free 13 men accused of involvement in her rape.

Since her highly publicised rape three years ago, she has become an icon in the campaign for women's justice in conservative Pakistan.

Critics of Pakistan's judicial system and social systems say the Mukhtar Mai case is an example of appalling treatment often handed out to women, particularly in feudal, rural areas.

Her rape was allegedly ordered by a village council as a punishment for a misdemeanour blamed on her brother.



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Daily Times Mai vows to fight on - 10 hrs ago
China Post Gang-raped Pakistani woman brings her fight to U.S - 14 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Pakistani rape victim is Glamour's woman of year - 32 hrs ago
Bucks County Courier Times Raped Pakistani Woman Brings Fight to U.S - 36 hrs ago
San Francisco Chronicle Raped Pakistani Woman Brings Fight to U.S - 46 hrs ago
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