Rape survivor defies custom

A Pakistani gang-rape survivor who shunned custom and rose to global fame by speaking out against her case has defied another local taboo - she just got married.

Mukhtar Mai, pictured, is now the second wife of Nasir Abbas Gabol, a police officer who was assigned to protect her as her case gained notoriety.

He said she was reluctant to accept his offer and that he threatened suicide when she turned him down.

Mai was gang raped at the order of a tribal council in the eastern province of Punjab in 2002 to punish her family for her brother's alleged affair with a woman from a higher caste family. There were also allegations that the boy had been molested by members of the other family, and that the accusations of the affair were used to cover up the crime.

Rape victims in Pakistan face severe social stigma and diminished marriage prospects, prompting many to commit suicide. But Mai went public and challenged her alleged attackers in court, attracting international attention and becoming a women's rights activist.

She was named Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year, and now runs a school in her southern Punjab province village of Meerwala. The case against her attackers is still in the court system.

Mai initially refused to marry Gabol because he was already married and she discouraged him from divorcing his first wife.

Gabol said he was so desperate to marry Mai that he threatened to kill himself unless she relented. Fearing he would carry out his threat, his first wife met Mai and persuaded her to marry him. - Sapa-AP