Full Life Heroes: Assiya Rafiq and Mukhtar Mai

I’ve decided to start dedicating some space on this blog to talk about people that I consider to be heroes. I’d like to start by talking about two Pakistani women I read about in this past Sunday’s New York Times; Assiya Rafiq and Mukhtar Mai. In his op-ed Column, Nicholas D. Kristof related the harrowing yet inspiring tales of these amazing women; harrowing, because both women were subject to appalling and repeated sexual abuse; inspiring, because they have both taken the incredibly brave step of stepping up and demanding that their attackers be brought to justice.

Assiya has sought to prosecute those responsible, despite numerous death threats. She is being aided in her efforts by Mukhtar Mai; herself the victim of civically sanctioned rape in her hometown of Meerwala several years ago, Mai successfully prosecuted her attackers, and then used the compensation money to open a school. After Kristof covered her plight and heroism in his columns and blog, Mai began receiving donations through MercyCorps.org, which she in turned used to fund further schools, a legal aid program, ambulance service, and more.

When some people first start coaching, they think they are not capable of greatness; it will be too hard; the odds are against them. The example that these women give us is that there are reserves of strength, courage, and power within each of us that can defy the most outrageous societal practices. The affirming and inspirational actions of these women should make us all strive to ask more of ourselves.


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