Pakistani survivor of 2002 gang rape gives birth

Pakistani Mukhtar Mai speaks at a shelter set up by her to protect helpless women in the village of Mirwala in Pakistan's central Punjab province. Mukhtar Mai was gang raped on the orders of a jirga, or tribal court, in 2002. Mai has given birth to a baby boy, her husband and hospital officials said Monday

A Pakistani gang rape victim who gained prominence for her outspoken stance on the oppression of women has given birth to a baby boy, her husband and hospital officials said Monday.

Mukhtar Mai delivered the baby by Caesarian section two weeks prematurely in the central city of Multan, they added.

Mai, now 40, was gang raped in June 2002 on the orders of a village council as punishment after her younger brother was accused of having illicit relations with a woman from a rival clan.

The boy was just 12 years old at the time of the incident in Meerwala town in central Multan district, some 360 kilometres (225 miles) southwest of the capital Islamabad.

Mai in March 2009 married police constable Nasir Abbas Gabol, who has five children from a previous marriage.

"It is a good news for both of us, I feel happy like any father and I thank Allah that Mai is OK," he said.

The baby, which is Mai's first, was born around 4:30 pm on Sunday at the private clinic of Doctor Naseem Akhtar Malik, staff nurse Asma Bibi said.

"The baby weighed 3.8 kg, both mother and child are OK," she said. The case was complicated because Mai was suffering from hepatitis B, she said.

Gabol, 33, said the baby had not been named. "We will select a name with the consent of our elders when we go back to our village Meeranwala," he said.

Mai won fame in the West as the cause celebre of oppressed women after her rape and subsequent fight for justice.

An anti-terror court previously sentenced six men to death for her rape, but the top court in Punjab province acquitted five of them in March 2005, and commuted the sentence for the main accused, Abdul Khaliq, to life imprisonment.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court decided to uphold the life sentence for Khaliq and release the five others.

Almost a thousand women were raped in Pakistan during 2010 while more than 2,000 were abducted and almost 1,500 murdered, according to the Aurat Foundation, an organisation working for the protection of women in the country.

A further 500 were the victims of "honour killings", murdered by relatives and fellow tribesmen who believe they had affairs.