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An Update on Assiya Rafiq

August 6, 2009

Nicholas Kristoff writes today in The New York Times

After my Sunday column on Assiya Rafiq, the teenage girl who is trying to prosecute the police in Pakistan who raped her, an update. First, many, many of you donated money through Mercy Corps to the Mukhtar Mai fund (a total of $75,000 so far), and some of that was stipulated for Assiya. (The way to make the stipulation is in the comment screen toward the end of the checkout procedure.)

The U.S. State Department (thanks to Hillary Clinton or Richard Holbrooke?) has also reached out. In the past, the consular missions in Pakistan have not had much interaction with Mukhtar (while the Canadians and Swiss have). But right after my column, the U.S. Consulate in Lahore immediately contacted Mukhtar, and she and a team went to Lahore to meet a senior US diplomat there, who promised to try to help. That kind of thing truly helps: just an inquiry from a foreign diplomat makes it harder for police in a remote town to get away with raping or killing people they don’t like. The Pakistani press has also provided some coverage of the case and of my column.

In addition, Mukhtar has hired two lawyers to help Assiya and has hidden the girl and her entire family in a place where it will be harder for the police to find them and kidnap them. I’m hoping that Assiya and her younger brothers and sisters will be able to go back to school, with the funds provided by readers, and get a good education. I told Assiya that if she shows the same passion for education that she shows for justice, she’ll end up as one of her country’s leading human rights lawyers.

All that said, the situation remains dangerous for Assiya and Mukhtar alike. Too many people want to kill them, and they’re not getting serious protection from the Pakistani authorities.

Assiya Rafiq

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