By Sandra Elliot
6/30/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In the recent wave of kidnappings that are plaguing Upper Egypt, Christian women and girls are being taken off the streets and reportedly forced to convert to Islam. In the cases that International Christian Concern (ICC) has tracked, most of these girls are never heard from again.
Sandy Shehata is the fifth case in this series ICC has produced. Unlike the previous abductions, Sandy escaped her captors and lived to see her family again.
On April 18, Sandy, age 16, left to go shopping with her aunt for new Easter clothes. She left the house at 4:30 p.m., but never reached her destination.
“I went to the mobile shop before going to my aunt,” Sandy later recounted. “While I was leaving…a beard[ed] man hit me on my head, and I then passed out.”
When Sandy never arrived at her aunt’s house, her family was forced to search the streets for her. The crude reality for Christians in Egypt looks much like this: relatives and friends alike searching in hospitals and alleyways hoping to recover their loved ones.
On Tuesday, April 19, Sandy’s grandfather reported the disappearance to the Helwan police station, report number 5696.
At the same time, in a remote mountain location, Sandy woke up to find herself surrounded by older Muslim men.
“They clothed me [in] a black cloak and tried with me many times to convert to Islam but I refused to do that,” Sandy told ICC. “They were attacking, torturing and beating me.”
The men relentlessly beat and raped Sandy for the entirety of her two weeks in captivity. After each beating, Sandy would pass out until they woke her up again to continue.
On May 3, Sandy awoke to being thrown from a truck in the middle of nowhere.
“I braced up myself and walked until someone found me,” she recalled.
An owner of a Central Phone Shop in Abbassia, Cairo was driving along the road when he saw Sandy. Seeing that she was in distress, the man offered his phone for her to call her family.
“When I heard Sandy’s voice the tears fell from my eyes,” her mother recalled. “I thanked God for answering our prayers.”
While Sandy survived her kidnapping, her assailants have not been pursued by local authorities, leaving other Christian women at risk of similar abductions.