Rape victim's tale heads to bigscreen

Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani rape victim who waged a legal battle against her attackers and the justice system that sanctioned the crime, will be the subject of a feature film to be produced by Jay Roach and Jennifer Perini.

Pic will be written and helmed by “City of God” co-director Katia Lund.

Roach and Perini will produce through his Everyman Pictures banner. Funding is in place through a partnership with ARY Digital and Passport Capital. ARY Digital is Pakistan’s first independent TV network.

When her young brother went before a council of tribal elders after he was accused of being seen with a girl from a rival tribe, Mai pleaded for his release. They spared him — but ordered that she be gang-raped in public to shame her family. While most victims of this authorized crime commit suicide rather than exist as a pariah, Mai fought back.

She took her case to Pakistani authorities, and her ordeal drew international attention through press attention and particularly stories written by New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof, who may become a character in the film.

The press attention shamed the government into prosecuting her attackers, and Mai emerged as a galvanizing figure in a crusade to reform women’s rights in a male-dominated culture. “She has become the leading representative of women’s rights there,” Roach told Daily Variety. “Katia wrote a treatment, we took it to every studio, and they all found it inspiring but couldn’t imagine financing it.”

They did better with the hedge fund Passport and ARY. The latter will air the film in Pakistan, which promises to be a controversial event considering how volatile the subject matter is there.

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