Teenage Christian Girl Kidnapped, Raped by Young Muslim Men in Pakistan
Washington, D.C. September 28 (International Christian Concern) – A young Christian girl was raped by three Muslim men in Faisalabad, Pakistan last Thursday. The incident came just weeks after a 10-year-old Christian girl was raped by a 60-year-old man in the same city on August 25. The cases evidence escalating abuse toward children in Pakistan’s Punjab province, especially among Christians who are often victimized by the country’s social norms because of their religious minority status.
Shumaila Masih, a 17-year-old girl from a poor Christian family, was raped by three Muslim men, all around the age of 30, in Chak 226, a district of Faisalabad, on September 20. Shumaila was walking to a home where her mother was working as a maid when the men grabbed her, Akram Masih, the girl’s uncle, told ICC.
“She left home around 11:00 am and was on her way to her mother’s workplace when three Muslim men kidnapped her and took her to the nearest house, which was under construction,” he said. “They abused her and raped her.”
Hours later, after the girl was noticed missing, Shumaila’s parents and uncle went searching for her. “When we passed by a house that was under construction, we heard the cry of a girl and found two boys standing outside,” Masih explained. “Shumaila was bruised and tied with a piece of cloth naked to a bed. She had been there for six hours, because we rescued her around 5:00 pm.”
Masih reported the incident at Tarkhani police station, in the Samundri Tehsil district of Faisalabad. Two of the culprits have since been arrested. Many Muslims in the community stood alongside Christians to demand that immediate legal action be taken against the offenders, a local activist told ICC.
“The men [should be] punished according to the law,” Manzoor Masih, Shumaila’s father, told Asia News. “It is not [right] to assault any young girl. These people are monsters and must be punished.”
Shumaila’s case came less than a month after Allah Rakhi, a 10-year-old Christian girl from the poor Yousafabad district of Faisalabad, was sexually assaulted by Muhammad Nazir, a 60-year-old Muslim man, in late August. The girl followed Nazir to his house where she was promised to be paid for some items she was selling at the market, Asia News reported. Sarfraz Masih, Rakhi’s father, found her later that day “lying on the floor” where she had been “brutally raped and left bleeding.”
“We are very poor and unable to fight with this kind of rich people,” explained Masih. Nazir reportedly told Masih that “Christians would pay” if the incident was reported to the police.
In another case, Sumbal Masih, a Christian girl believed to be 15 years old, was “beaten harshly” by her Muslim employers with “pipes and iron rods” on September 14 in Lahore, reported World Vision in Progress. Sumbal has since gone missing.
According to the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), there were 40 cases of rape, 14 murders, 22 kidnappings, and six forced marriages of children in Punjab province during the first five months of 2012. Christians and other religious minorities, including Hindus, are often the victims.
“Religious minorities and marginalized groups are easy targets for wealthy landowners in rural areas,” said Father Bonnie Mendes, the former Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) in Pakistan “I personally know the victim [Shumalia], because I was [a] pastor in that area. They are a very poor family, but rich in the Catholic faith. They deserve justice.”