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ANAA RALLY FOR THE DIGNITY AND SAFETY OF PAKISTANI WOMEN  

By Somy Ali

On Saturday, September 17, 2005,  the Asian-American Network against Abuse of Women (AANA)  together with over 300 of its friends and supporters rallied outside the Roosevelt Hotel in New York where Pakistani president Pervez Musharraff was staying. The organization massed to call on Musharraff to help all the women in Pakistan that have been and are the victims of injustice. The organization’s list of demands included an apology from Musharraff for commenting about women intentionally wanting to get raped, so they could get asylum and enter countries such as, Canada, United States, and the United Kingdom.

The protesters included a substantial number of men and women, and AANA was very successful in conveying their message and getting significant media attention. CNN Headline news and many South Asian news stations interviewed the leader of AANA and the rally leader, Amna Buttar. Buttar displayed extreme exasperation over Musharraff’s comment of women willing to be raped simply to go abroad.

AANA and its volunteers were particularly concerned for the status of Dr. Shazia Khalid  who was raped and beaten by a senior army official in January 2003. Dr. Khalid’s rapist is yet to pay for his crime. AANA’s Leena Khan stressed on Dr. Khalid’s, as well as other rape cases in Pakistan.

“The road to justice for survivals of rape is an uphill battle, where women are treated as criminals. After numerous attempts were made on her life Dr. Khalid was forced to flee the country and is now seeking asylum in the United Kingdom,” says Leena. Shazia now lives separated from her son and family in London with only depression and hopelessness, while her rapist walks around unscathed in Pakistan.

AANA expressed concern over the Pakistani government’s apathy in convicting Dr. Shazia Khalid’s rapist. The supporters at the rally were very charged and one could feel the sadness in the air when one of the organization’s volunteers read Dr. Khalid’s poignant statement into a microphone. The statement was addressed to president Musharraff and her country’s people. The supporters were teary eyed, yet displayed profound conviction to help the women of Pakistan obtain justice. AANA is hopeful and judging by the media attention it received, it’s inevitable that the Pakistani government will take some sort of action to bring back the lost integrity to their nation’s women.

 

 

 
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