MEERWALA, Pakistan — A Pakistani woman who was gang raped said on Sunday that she would challenge a Supreme Court decision to dismiss her appeal against the early release of five men convicted of abusing her.

Mukhtar Mai, now 40, was gang raped in June 2002 on the orders of a village council as a punishment after her 12-year-old brother was wrongly accused of having illicit relations with a woman from a rival clan.

"I have decided after consulting my friends and family to file a review petition in the Supreme Court," Mai told AFP at her home in Meerwala, 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of the central city of Multan.

The court last week dismissed Mai's appeal against the acquittal of five men she accused of attacking her.

A local anti-terrorism court (ATC) had sentenced six accused men to death, but Lahore High Court acquitted five of them in March 2005, and commuted the sentence for the main accused, Abdul Khaliq, to life imprisonment.

The Supreme Court heard separate appeals and ordered the release of five of those arrested, upholding only the life sentence given to Khaliq.

Mai's case garnered much attention in the West as an example of oppression suffered by Pakistan's women.

Human Rights Watch on Friday called on Pakistan's government to petition the court to review the case and asked authorities to protect Mai, who has said that she fears for her life after her unusual decision to speak out.

Almost 1,000 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.