Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In the Name of Honour by Mukhtar Mai

‘In the name of Honour’ by Mukhtar Mai first caught my attention at Crossword. I did not buy the book right away because it was only available in hardcover, which made it expensive. So, I made a note and decided to wait for a few months, to be launched in paperback.

Several months later, while going through my wish list, I came across this book again and luckily, it was available online in Paperback. It is a small book, about 180 pages, so I picked it up for reading immediately after finishing the book I was reading.

To me this book is all about the courage and determination of the woman who was supposed to commit suicide after she was subjected to gangrape as a punishment for an “honor crime”. But she survives and overcomes her handicaps to turn into a social activist. Mukhtar Mai is inspiring, and this book stands for all the injustice and atrocities that women are subjected to, in the name of honor.

There are 2 things that come out very starkly in this book – the first is illiteracy. Half the battle is lost due to the fact that several women in the back and beyond of villages are illiterate, and thus are unaware and incapable about fighting or filing cases for the injustice caused to them. The second thing that has been captured vividly is the quantum of violence against women, predominantly rape and murder. In the tribal regions and villages, it is common practice to take vengeance with the other man by raping the women of his family. For years, women have been subjected to all sorts of violence under the guise of ‘justice’.

Mukhtar Mai is a divorced, 28-year old, tribal woman who is subjected to the punishment of gang rape because her 12 year old brother is accused of talking to an upper - caste woman. She contemplates suicide like any other woman subjected to such heinous crime, but unlike them she turns around, stands up and fights for not only her own honour but turns into a social activist and makes the public and the media sit up and take note of such atrocities in the society.

She is not bogged down by the fact that she is illiterate, though she regrets not being able to read, several times in the book. She comes across as an extremely courageous and intelligent woman, who did not let herself be intimidated by the powerful men and the system. Because she is illiterate, it becomes all the more difficult for her to fight her case because she is never sure whether whatever she is saying is getting documented correctly, and she attributes illiteracy a major problem in cases getting registered for such crimes.

Not being political about it, I would just say that It is just a matter of chance that she belongs to Pakistan because 'honour killings' happen everywhere.

Read another review of the book here. I definitely recommend this book. It has been written well and deserves all the attention for the cause it brings forward. 


  1. I dunno I shud be reading this book or not (going by it's theme!) but the fact is I WANT TO!!! After reading this review I googled her name!! Isn't the whole thing shameful! I mean how can even ppl think of doing this is beyond me!!

    On a diff note! Why are u reading so many depressing books lately??? Hush! come out read a bright book my dear girl! Or tell me I shud mind my own business :)

  2. Your last comments really made me smile. But some of these books are not depressing, they are about courageous women. Yes, they did go through something horrible but they were courageous.
    But yeah, who am I fooling, I am definitely going to read a chicklit next :-) after I finish 'Thousand Splendid Suns'

  3. Thanks for your post. It is useful

  4. One could get a choice of editions of this book at Here you also have choice of buying this book in other Indian languages. Check this book at A1Books. Kishore

  5. @Agepe: Thanks
    @Kishore:Hi, I do use a1books frequently, since I am able to find several rare books there. It's really good!