Women are given in marriage to hostile families as compensation for a relative's crime in a practise called "swara" in Pashtun, parts of Afghanistan and the NWFP, and "vanni" in the Punjab. Although officially outlawed in Pakistan, the custom prevails.
Twenty-five years ago, Fehmida and Allahbakhsh were awarded 80 lashes and death by stoning respectively by a Karachi court under the Hudood ordinances. In response to these sentences, the Women's Action Forum was born to fight the oppression of women.
Human Rights advocates are shocked over the attempted rape of a female law student by staff of the Islamic Learning Department of Karachi University on 28 July 2006. They urge you to write to the Pakistani authorities to demand action for the arrest of the perpetrators and the filing of a criminal case.
Mukhtar Mai was gang-raped on the orders of local elders in a neighbouring village. She was determined to bring them to justice and now writes an internet diary in Urdu, about her life and concerns as a woman from a remote village in southern Punjab.