An under-age Christian girl was kidnapped, raped and tortured by two influential Muslims, Fides reports. Fouzia Bibi, 15, from the village of Roday, near Kasur in Punjab, comes from a very poor family, and works as a farm labourer with her father, Malooka Masih, and with her brothers.
On 25 January Fouzia Bibi was sent on an errand by her employers. On the way back two Muslims armed with pistols, Sher Muhammad and Shabir Ali, influential people of the territory, kidnapped and, imprisoned her in a room, raped and tortured her repeatedly. The girl was then left unconscious in the street. She managed to return home and her family went to the police station to file a complaint.
After the police’s refused to listen to what had happened , Fouzia’s father turned to Rev Saleem Gill of the Anglican Church of Pakistan and Catholic Bishop Irfan Jamil, who sought proper legal assistance. The NGO LEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development) has also assisted her. Four days later, with the help of LEAD, First Information Report was presented against the rapists. Malooka Masih said that the perpetrators also threatened her family to avoid protruding complaint. Fouzia’s family is now "terrified and under threat".
LEAD notes that Christians are often victims of abuse by powerful Muslims, who deny them any dignity or human rights. In particular, Christian girls are doubly discriminated against and often treated "as goods."
According to data collected by Fides, each year there are approximately 700 cases of girls belonging to religious minorities (Christians or Hindus) who are raped or kidnapped, even for the purpose of conversion. Lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, head of LEAD, strongly condemns the rapists, asking the government to "take strong measures to eliminate such phenomena of society."
To combat such practices, Paul Bhatti, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Harmony and President of the 'All Pakistan Minorities Alliance' (APMA), today announced the formation of a special legal team bringing together leading jurists of different faiths, which will provide free legal assistance to people in need.