In 2002, she was brutally gang-raped and was paraded naked in the public on the orders of her tribe's elders after her brother had insulted a rival clan.
After 14 years, the gang rape survivor and women's rights activist Mukhtaran Mai walked the fashion runway during Pakistan’s fashion week wearing a light green embroidered bridal shirt and silver, silk pajama pants, designed by Rozina Munib, with a scarf covering her hair on Tuesday. Designer Rozina Munib chose to have Mukhtaran Mai as a showstopper at the Fashion Pakistan Week in order to display her designs to send a public message that, “If you have a mishap, it’s not the end of life.”
Surrounded by Pakistan’s top models and wealthy designers, Mai appeared slightly shy and nervous when faced with the blitz of cameras.
Talking about her walk Mai said that she is doing it as a model of courage and hope for other Pakistani women. She was at the show to spread awareness about women’s struggles, those shunned by the society as well as their families.
“If one step I take, if that helps even one woman, I would be very happy to do that. I want to be the voice of those women who face circumstances similar to what I did. My message for my sisters is that we aren’t weak. We have a heart and a brain, we also think. I ask my sisters to not lose hope in the face of injustice, as we will get justice one day for sure”, Mai told The Associated Press.
Ahead of the show, designer Rozina told Dawn: "I have no intention of glamorizing her into a model for the show. She will be wearing the kind of clothes that she would normally wear to a wedding. The purpose of bringing her to Karachi and making her a part of my show is to tell her story so that it gives courage to other women. Mukhtar suffered terribly but instead of committing suicide or succumbing to depression she stood up for her rights. She won against all odds and moved on with her life. She has remarried now and runs a sanctuary where she provides shelter to women and helps them in becoming self-sufficient."
"It is Mukhtaran’s story that inspired me to call my collection 'Zindagi ke Rang'. Life brings its share of pain but one has to be strong enough to rise above it," Rozina added. A short film by Asad-ul-Haq highlighting Mukhtaran’s work for her village's women was shown at the event.
The annual fashion showcase was started in 2009 in defiance of religious fundamentalists in Pakistan who sought to enforce strict dress codes and behavioral restrictions on Pakistani women.
Mukhtaran Mai is an international advocate for women’s rights and runs a charity called Mukhtar Mai Women’s Welfare Organization for the welfare and support of Pakistani women and girls that sponsor a women’s shelter and a girls’ school in her rural hometown of Meerwala, was founded by her.