A gang rape survivor walked at Pakistan Fashion Week to inspire other women to come forward

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Hayley Spencer
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In 2002 Mukhtaran Mai was gang raped and paraded naked as a punishment for attempting to defend her brother's supposed insult to a rival family. She survived the crimes and fought for justice, taking her case to Supreme Court in 2011. This week she led a catwalk show at Pakistan Fashion Week show as a mark of hope for other victims.

Designer Rozina Munib asked her to walk in his show to demonstrate that you can move forward after becoming the victim of a similarly despicable crime. "If you have a mishap, it's not the end of life," he said.

The 28-year-old was met with rapturous applause as she made her way down the runway. She wore an embroidered wedding outfit and a head scarf at the event which was founded in 2009 as a protest to strict fundamentalist views on Pakistini women and their dress.

Mai released her memoir In the Name of Honor in 2006 and also founded the Mukhtar Mai Women’s Organisation in her hometown of Meerwala the same year to provide shelter for victims of violence and to educate women and girls. She's now an international spokeswoman for women's rights.

Asked why she chose the platform of a fashion show to make a public statement she told The Express Tribune: “I am walking the ramp to spread awareness about the struggles women go through. This is for the women in my society, it is for those who have no one and no place to go to."

“All that I do, I do it for my children (at the shelter) and women. This is for them. I can’t do this alone hence I found an anchor in the media to help spread my message,” she added.

Mai's battle for justice still continues 14 yearson from her rape. After the case was taken to Supreme Court six of her 14 attackers were given death sentences, but after appeal five of them to be acquitted. However, there is now a judicial appeal of the Supreme Court decision, marking a huge breakthrough for Mai.


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Hayley Spencer