LISBON, March 19: A Pakistani woman was on Monday awarded a European human rights prize, five years after she was stripped naked, gang-raped and left for dead on the orders of a tribal council.
“All women want equal rights,” Mukhtaran Mai, who since her ordeal has become a leading campaigner for women’s rights, said through an interpreter after receiving the North-South Prize in Lisbon.
The prize is awarded each year by the Council of Europe through its Lisbon-based North-South Centre to two people from the northern and southern hemispheres for their achievements in promoting human rights.
This year it was presented by the Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco at a ceremony held in Portugal’s parliament.
Father Francisco Van Der Hoff, a Dutch missionary who defends fair trade for disadvantaged Mexican coffee producers, shared this year’s prize with Mukhtaran Mai.
Past recipients include Irish rock singer Bob Geldof, East Timor’s President Xanana Gusmao and Mozambique’s first post-independence education minister and international children’s rights campaigner, Graca Machel.1