On March 3, a court overturned the conviction of a village elder and four other men who had been sentenced to death for allegedly ordering a woman gang-raped as punishment for her brother's illicit sex with a woman from their clan.  The rape of Mukhtar Mai in 2002 in a mud-brick house in a village in central Pakistan made world headlines and led the government to promise sweeping changes to end centuries of honor attacks and killings.  Six men, including village council chief Faiz Mastoi, were convicted and sentenced to death.  But the court overturned the sentences, citing a lack of evidence.  Mastoi and four others were ordered released and the sixth man's death sentence was reduced to life in prison.  Mai, 33, who still lives in the village of Meerwala along with her family, has said she begged the attackers not to rape her, but they ignored her pleas.  

Mai said she won't be safe in her village but said she will not leave.  

Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan March 7, after the court ordered the release of the men.  We will fight for justice for Mukhtar Mai, 3,000 women chanted during the rally.  The government and Mai, who fears she might be targeted for revenge, plan to appeal.

Pakistan's Supreme Court overturned the acquittals of the 13 men accused of gang-raping Mai and ordered the suspects re-arrested.  The ruling came a day after Mai made a dramatic appearance at the Supreme Court, appealing a lower court decision to acquit five of the men who allegedly raped her.

Police yesterday arrested seven men and police said they plan to determine who is right and who is wrong and send this to a court soon.

Mai, now 36, was honored at Lincoln Center as Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year for her fight against oppression in her homeland.  This award is a victory for poor women; it's a victory for all women, Mai said at the ceremony November 2 after actress Brooke Shields presented her award.  She said her motto is: End oppression with education.

(Multan, Pakistan)