Pakistan rape victim Mukhtar Mai has been in the international spotlight as a result of her campaign to seek justice for herself and other women in Pakistan.
Ms Mai's case sparked worldwide attention
She has been writing a blog for the BBC's Urdu website with the assistance of the BBC's Nadeem Saeed. Here is the first in a series of extracts.
1 July 2006
I came back to my village, Mirwala, (after a trip to Poland) and was devastated to hear what had happened in a nearby village, Wadowala.
A nine-year-old girl, Naseem Bibi, had been abused. Not just that, but another girl had been promised to be handed over to settle the dispute arising over the incident.
I was devastated to hear this.
I'll fight as long I'm alive. Some evils are centuries old and deep-rooted and it won't be easy to rid society of them
Here I was talking about women's rights abroad but what about my own neighbourhood?
I was really disappointed and worried. How long will this continue?
But then I thought, oppression of women has to end. Instead of losing heart, I need to keep fighting.
I'll fight as long I'm alive. Some evils are centuries old and deep-rooted and it won't be easy to rid society of them.
I may get lucky and see some positive changes but not everything will change in my lifetime.
I have no doubt the children at my school will be there to take this struggle forward once I've passed away.
Mukhtar Mai started a school for girls in her village in southern Punjab with compensation money awarded by courts during her rape trial.
Landlords and tribal chiefs
3 July 2006
It was only 7:30 in the morning when I heard someone crying in the house. I came out of my bedroom and saw two women. I brought them in.
They were holding a photograph of a boy who looked 16 or 17. The women told us that the boy had been killed by a group of men who supported a particular landlord.
Mukhtar Mai has become a familiar face on TV around the world
The group had attacked a small village (of about 100 houses) with guns and other weapons.
They beat up women and men, leaving eight women and a dozen men injured and a boy dead.
The poor villagers had to suffer this onslaught only because they had apparently voted against the landlord in local elections.
Local police officials were reportedly having dinner at the landlord's place while all this was happening.
These women alleged that the police arrived on the scene only after the attackers had left.
I wonder how long these landlords and tribal chiefs will keep on plundering and murdering the poor; how long will we keep on hearing of local panchayats [village councils] and jirgas [tribal councils] and traditions, which endorse oppression against the weak and poor?
These people are destroying the very fabric of our country.
6 July 2006
Someone knocked on my door. There were two women who had an eight-year-old girl with them. She looked rather scared and confused.
Usually when someone comes to meet me, I am told who the visitor is and their name is recorded at the local police post.
But this was a bit out of routine as the women and girl had come directly to meet me.
I kind of knew one of the women. The other woman told me that the young girl was her daughter and that she had been raped.
According to the girl's mother, the girl used to learn the Koran at a neighbour's house.
A few days ago her teacher had sent her to the local soap factory to buy some stuff where she was reportedly assaulted and raped.
Once again I was completely shocked. The little girl reminded me of the horror I had gone through when the same thing happened to me.
Every time I hear of something like this, I relive all those painful memories. When will all this end?
'I don't want to live anymore'
15 July, 2006
Mr Wilson from Washington came to see the work being done by our NGO and to train staff.
He was interested to meet people in other villages, so we took him to a settlement called Basti Mochiwali, which is a satellite hamlet next to Alipur village.
We were soon surrounded by a crowd. We told the villagers that we were there to meet up with a man called Ramzan. A man from the crowd said he was Ramzan.
Soon he took us to Shamshad Bibi's house. Even by the standards of the village, it was a poor house - barely a room had even a proper door.
Shamshad Bibi was reportedly gang-raped during a visit to the famous shrine town of Uch Shareef. After being raped she was thrown into a well.
The police declared that it was a case of consensual sex while human rights organizations kept insisting that it was rape.
Even the medical expert's report testifies that it was rape but the police have refused to conduct any further investigation.
Shamshad is bed-ridden now. Her backbone broke when she was thrown into the well.
Doctors say there's no hope of any treatment for her. She was just lying there, perhaps waiting for death.
When she saw me, she started crying and said: "Sister, please give me some poison, I don't want to live anymore."
"Isn't it ironic that I don't have money even to buy medicines for myself while those who raped me are free and it seems no one can do anything about it," she sobbed.
We promised to do everything to help her.
This debate is now closed. Here is a selection of comments you sent.
As soon as Pervaiz Musharaf has said something against America and George Bush, Western Media has taken out the story of the rape case which is not only a menace in Pakistani society but all over the world. Women are not only here victimised but also in the West....
Western Media thinks we don't understand them?
Will you publish these comments?
Asim Ali Syed, Pakistan
Keep fighting the good fight Mukhtar Mai. We stand with you.
Tomas K., Norway
THe Human Rights groups in Pakistan are actually paid journalists of the opposition. Silence.
Qureshi, Boston, MA
When going gets tough touhg gets going. kept up the excellent work.
ishaq muhammad, UK
I offer my sincere prayer for the victims of these atrocities, may almighty God give them comfort and peace. At the same time I ask God to give the insight to the people that committed these horrible acts to realize they do as well have mothers, sisters and families and children.
Mahmood Wahid, USA
You know when i read this story i started to cry. Question What is the government doing about this.
Dian Broadbell, Jamaica
I feel pain. Sadness and pain. I am clear after putting my 'feelings'aside that human beings abusing other human beings and destroying them are no less than murderers and to bring them to reckon with justice begins with courage to be able to stand up to it and sacrifice oneself to the cause.
Elizabeth Chabra, USA
I wish mukhtaran mai could come and help women in the UK as nearly 50 thousand women are raped every year and the conviction rate is less then 10 per cent. We dearly need someone like her in the U.K as well.
Thanks goodness. Insitutional and systemic avoidance has framed much of the domestic violence and sexual violence history. Staggeringly so upon investigation. This blog, and its associated public interest gives me hope that 'domestic terror' will soon be treated with some justice.
Its quite unfortunate this is still happening in a place like pakistan, where i had thought that such crimes would be of lesser degree compared to the various stories that happens to Children here in Nigeria and Africa in General. The Government should do something about it because poverty should not be misunderstood as a basis for molesting young innocent souls thereby endangering their future, infecting them with HIV and AIDS and othe STIs and leaving them to leave in a traumatic state for the rest of their life. Now what would happen to Shamshad Bibi's future now? Tell me what is the Pakistan Gov. doing about it? what about those that gangraped her and worst of all threw her into a well? Pls i need to follow up the story cos i work with an NGo here too PEP,for HIV/AIDS and other Adolescent Reproductive Health Issues. Thanks
Joel Ifeduba , Nigeria
A lot of us here in the USA understand wants going on in your part of the world, we're tring to help as you can see in iraq, please keep up your good work, I'll keep sending your articles to my daughters & friends. I beleve evryone in the world should be free. we don't want your oil but can you imagine if Iran or terrorist get a hold of a nuclear weapon and bomb the oil fields, that would put the worlds economy in the tank and properly start a bigger world war. May God bless you and all the good people in the world & Middle East
Kevin Knablin, United States of America
If you read this PLEASE continue with your fight all the wemon in the USA support you 150% we too had to over come the same issues years years ago but it is great now so keep pushing on you WILL WIN THIS FiGHT! WEMON DESERVE RIGHTS! and the poor little girls who were raped my heart and tears go to them I pray for you all, but DO NOT GIVE UP!!!! Women around the world need to unite and show support for your efforts I wish I could do more but I also have no funds for if I did I would go to your country, to your home and stand next to you, to help you, I bet we could really get some attention if women from the USA did that.I am opening my own business soon and if I make money like I plan you have put ideas in my head, I will help as soon as I can
Nicole Russell Tampa FL USA, USA
I felt very sorry to read the story on the bbc website.But thank you for whatever you do to assit those people who are victimised by those people who thinks that they can do whatever to the poor.may oh,allah bless you,Mukhtar Mai so that you keep on assisting the poor.
frank Ascot, Malawi ,Central Africa
It's a very sad state of affair's the Pakistan government should do more to eradicate problems such as this. The government need's to have a logical practice in place to ensure police force's within the country are performing to a high standard and not having lunch with the Landlord whilst local villager's are getting beaten up. Shame on you Mr Musharraf for not doing enough to help the poor of your country. and Ramadhan Mubarak to all the Musilm's across the Globe and let's pray for Peace, and tranquility throughout the world during this blessed month.
I am deeply sorry about what happened to Ms. Mukhtar Mai and I wonder if there is an e-mail address of the judicial authorities in Pakistan so I could join in the pressure for the punishment of the rapists.
josť ramos de almeida, brazil
Indeed, centuries-old evil IS rooted deep in the hearts of humankind, but Mukhtar is beginning a work that desperately needs to be done. Her voice can be heard throughout the world. These cries for help for her fellows will not go unheard--and difference will have been wrought. Let us do all we can to support her cause.