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.
She has been writing a blog for the BBC's Urdu website with the assistance of the BBC's Nadeem Saeed. Here is the third in a series of extracts.
1 August, 2006
Two women came to visit me. I knew one of them, but not the other one who was crying as she entered my door. She said her neighbours were pestering her day-in and day-out and had even threatened to kill her.
Mukhtar Mai says her goal is to fight injustice with knowledge
My advice to her was to report this to the police and ask for help. She agreed to ask the police to guarantee her personal safety. But she refused to report the harassment.
To my disappointment she kept arguing that it is not worthy of a "respectable woman" to be seen at a police station or in a court.
"Taking such a step would not reflect well on my honour," she told me.
After she left, I kept thinking about her for a long time. What mental slavery is this that women in my country do not ask for their rights, fearing that it is against their dignity to do so?
Most of my visitors are women who rely on their men for finances. That is why I want to establish a very good vocational centre in my village to develop their sewing skills, so that I can introduce their products to the rest of the world.
No doubt, injustice against women in Pakistan essentially emanates from their inability to earn their own money.
6 August, 2006
A rather lighter subject. My friend Naseem was a bit under the weather so we went to see a doctor in a nearby town, Alipur. The doctor said: "You look like Mukhtar Mai. Don't you? I have seen her on CNN." I told him I didn't know what she looked like.
After our third visit to the doctor I told him who I really was.
11 August, 2006
I was sitting in my room when my brother-in-law Riaz and my father told me the police had raided their house to take away some photos and their national identity cards.
When I spoke to some friends about the incident, they told me the government was collecting information regarding our activities, as they wanted to be in the picture and see what Naseem and I do.
I don't understand the way the Pakistani government thinks. But I know for certain we are not doing anything sinister. We are only committed to one thing and that is to fight for the poor and oppressed with all our energy, without undue interference from the state.
13 August, 2006
Sajjad called from Rahim Yar Khan, where a woman was almost stoned to death a few days ago. I was told that the only person who was charged and arrested in connection with the crime has now been released. It was so disappointing to learn that.
Mukhtar Mai has become a familiar face on TV around the world
I was so devastated that later in the day I called the senior superintendent of police to protest against the release. I asked him how long the police will continue siding with influential people while simultaneously failing to redress the genuine concerns of the poor.
Personally I could only alleviate the pain of that woman by bringing her to my place. And that is what I did later today.
14 August, 2006
It is Independence Day, which means the girls at my school are excited and gather in the school ground from quite early in the morning.
They perform the flag ceremony at eight in the morning, which is followed by a recitation from the Koran, some hymns, speeches by children, drama and other activities.
Each one of them is trying to out-perform each other, and several appear on stage again and again to say or sing something.
Today I am very happy. It's heartening to see the young girls expressing themselves so confidently. I'm sure they will make a change, if not today, definitely tomorrow.
15 August, 2006
Most of the day we were busy sorting out some issues with regard to our status as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO). We have just initiated a new project which I'm pleased to say had a happy take-off.
It was a rather sombre evening and some lines from Urdu poetry kept my mind occupied. The lines speak of the ignorance our nation is going through.
"Ignorance is as much a cruelty as intoxication,
Apathy is not a lesser crime,
Not facing up to injustice is a crime,
Silence in wake of injustice is no less than the injustice itself."
16 August, 2006
Quite often my past hounds me and I can't help crying. There is one incident that I can vividly recall.
When I was young I had two best friends, Soni and Sakina. Once they asked me to accompany them to a sugar cane field outside our village. They asked me to wait for them while they went into the field and stole some sugarcane.
Stupid and shy as I was, I stood there waiting for them until the owner of that field arrived. He asked me what I was doing there. I couldn't lie. He scolded me.
What I liked most as a child was to bath in the canal next to our village. One of my aunts used to take us there.
In those days I used to help my mother in household chores, picking cotton, cutting grass for fodder and stitching - in such ways did the days pass by.
Gone are those carefree days today. I never knew I would be burdened with so much responsibility.
If you would like to send a comment about this story you can use the form below.
Mukhtar Mai - I salute you for your courage and determination to help women in Pakistan. You must be delighted to know that the parliament is considering repealing the Sharia law about rape. I believe the efforts by you and your associates have forced the government's hand in taking action. I wish you all the best.
Suresh , USA
Rape is a violent act perpetrated by men. It is a result of men not being able to control themselves. Lack of self-control is a weakness. Lack of justice empowers more rapes. These men assume power over women partly because laws ignore the status of women. These men are weak. These men are not men but animals.
Changing the rape law in India is another way of saying to the women of Pakistan, "Its time to speak out". But the question is, how many women will have the guts to come out and stand in the face of their rapist and lay the accusation before them? I wish them well.
Maxwell Umedum, Awka, Nigeria
I have just gone through her entire three episodes of blogs and cannot believe what she has been doing, given the circumstances. Mukhtar Mai deserves the Nobel Prize for promoting peace and women's' rights. There are so many self-serving and publicity-seeking individuals who have been awarded international prizes. I think, it is high time that we recognise Mukhtar Mai's work and put an end to appalling circumstances she is working under.
Bharat Bhushan, Berlin Germany
Mukhtar Mai, my heart is with you, as well as the hearts of every enlightened person in the world. My suggestion is this: to empower women we have to give women financial freedom. Why not create micro credit bank like the Grameen Bank from Bangladesh? That way women can establish themselves as money bringers in the family, and get the freedom that they truly deserve from the tyranny of the feudal/patriarchal society that has oppressed them for so long.
Naeem Ahmed Malik, Pakistan
Ms Mai gives a distorted picture of the so-called predicament faced by women in Pakistan. Many of them are not oppressed, and even if they were, would be more than capable of defending their rights by themselves rather than through this publicity- seeking news manipulator.
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