The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday upheld the Lahore High Court's decision to acquit five of the six suspects in the Mukhtar Mai gang-rape case which caught global attention as an instance of a tribal council ordering the rape of a woman to atone for an alleged crime committed by her brother in the summer of 2002.
One suspect - convicted by the Lahore High Court and sentenced for life - will have to complete his prison term, according to the Supreme Court verdict which drew immediate condemnation from women's rights and human rights organizations.
While remaining non-committal on whether she would seek a review of the Supreme Court's verdict, Mukhtar Mai was quoted by the local media as stating: ``I did not receive justice today, hence I have left my fate in the hands of God. The release of the suspects has put my life in grave danger.''
Still, she tweeted an hour after the verdict that ``No court can weaken my resolve to stand against injustice''. Tweeting on the judgement, she added: ``The verdict proves that police dictates the justice system in Pakistan.''
With the case drawing international attention, the then Musharraf Government granted monetary compensation and fast-tracked the trial as a result of which six men were sentenced to death by an Anti-Terrorism Court within three months. Five of them were acquitted by the Lahore High Court and the sentence of the sixth was reduced from death to life. In the wake of further condemnation, they were rearrested.
Mukhtar Mai herself used the money that came for her assistance to open a girl's school and a women's welfare organisation. Serenaded by the international media for challenging the male-dominated social structure, she has travelled widely since and even spoken at the United Nations Headquarters. The attention that her case attracted also got Pakistan's Parliament to amend the rape laws but Mukhtar Mai, according to her website, still lives in fear as the very same villagers who tormented her continue to trouble her.