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Press Release — July 1, 2002

Pakistani Christian Girl Raped by Muslim Landlord

(July 1, 2002) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern, has just become aware of the case of Miss Shakeela Siddique of Fatewala village in the district of Gujranwala, Pakistan. Several months ago, upon reporting to work at the home of Mr. Azam, Shakeela, a 16-year-old Christian girl, was raped at gunpoint by the Muslim landlord, who had sent his wife and children into town in order to carry out this dastardly deed in secret. After having his way with the poor Christian girl, Azam then threatened to kill Shakeela and burn her family to death if she ever told anyone about the rape.

Ashamed and horrified, Shakeela quit her job as one of Azam’s domestic servants. However, after two months, Shakeela realized she was pregnant, making it necessary to tell her parents about the rape. Shakeela’s father, Siddique Masih, then approached Azam and was mercilessly beaten and driven out of the landlord’s home. The police refused to help Siddique pursue the case because the family of Azam is very influential in the village. With much mental anguish, Shakeela received an abortion, hoping to avoid further shame and social stigma.

Shakeela’s mother told an ICC representative that before the rape “Shakeela was a committed Christian girl and prayed daily. She was very caring for her family. That is why she wanted to contribute to lower the financial burden of her father.” Shakeela had decided to work for Azam to help support her six brothers and sisters. However, her life has been drastically changed by the rape. Her father told ICC: “My every thing has been ruined as my daughter is a living corpse. No Christian in our village can think to raise [his] voice against the Muslim landlord on this cruelty.” Siddique’s family is one of only 50 Christian families in a predominantly Muslim village.

Sadly, Shakeela’s case is not an isolated one. Across Pakistan Christian women are targeted for sexual abuse by Muslims who believe they can get away with their crime because Christians have little legal protection in the corrupt judicial system. Some Christian girls have been raped and then forced into becoming Muslims and marrying their rapists so that the crime would not be exposed. One such case is that of Naira Nadia, who was kidnapped and raped in February 2001. To date Nadia remains missing because the Lahore High Court has refused to help her parents, claiming Nadia had married her attacker. Nadia’s case is now being taken up by the Supreme Court, which could overturn the ruling of the lower court. Nadia’s birth certificate confirms her to be a minor and unable to legally marry or convert to another religion without her parents’ consent.

ICC urges American Christians to raise their voices in concern about the treatment of Christian women in Pakistan. Write immediately to Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi and ask for her help in securing justice for Christian victims of rape and forced marriage.

Embassy of Pakistan
2315 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 387-0484