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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1524746114971{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”99704″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]06/07/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Due to widespread discrimination, Pakistani Christians are both socially and economically deprived. Despite making up only 1.5% of the total population, the majority of Christians fill the low-class jobs, such as sanitation workers, agricultural laborers, maids in Muslim homes, and brick kiln workers. Here, they are often ill-treated by their Muslim employers.

In this deeply rooted social stratification, Christian girls working as domestic workers in Muslim homes are vulnerable to rape, forced conversion, and forced marriages. Due to their double minority status as both Christians and women, it is nearly impossible for Christian domestic workers to fight for justice when abused. Because of their vulnerability, the biases of Pakistani society, and the common subservience of the judiciary system, ill-treated Christians are forced to compromise with their abusers rather than seeking justice in Pakistani court.

A recent case of persecution has brought this system of persecution and injustice back into the headlines.

On May 9, Salamat Masih withdrew his accusation against two Muslim men suspected of murdering his daughter, Kainat, a 17-year-old Christian girl who worked as a housemaid. Masih withdrew his police application against the two sons of Chaudhry Muhammad Ismail, a Member of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.

In the court of Civil Judge Gujranwala, Salamat Masih refused to support the First Information Report (FIR) that was registered against the accused because they were the children of a powerful legislator. In court, Masih maintained that police handed over the dead body of his daughter after taking his thumb impression on a blank sheet of paper, and registered the FIR themselves.

According to reports and the FIR, Kainat was beaten to death by her Muslim employers in a town in the Komonki District, Gujranwala after being accused of stealing. The FIR #344/18 was registered against Asif Ismail, his wife Lubna, Kashif Ismail, and Tariq Ismail. The FIR noted that rope marks were visible on the deceased’s neck.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“Due to their double minority status as both Christians and women, it is nearly impossible for Christian domestic workers to fight for justice when abused.”” font_container=”tag:h5|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1528397916411{margin-top: 50px !important;margin-bottom: 60px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1528397870948{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

As is often the case in Pakistan, Masih, a Christian, was likely coerced outside of court into dropping the case against Kainat’s murderers.

Those of us living in small villages witness such incidents routinely,” Chaudhry Shamaun Qaiser, a former member of the Punjab Assembly, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “Law enforcement personnel suggest that the complainant not pursue the case and instead compromise with the persecutor.

We stand with Christians and register the case against the oppressor, however we have to put extra efforts to keep the victim firm,” Qaiser continued. “Often, poor Christians succumb to the pressure and their vulnerability. Sometimes we are successful and keep the victim firm which results in victory. I think we should have an institution to help such people regardless [of] religion.

Providing greater insight into the suffering of Christian women working as domestic workers, Alyas Rehmat, an activist for female domestic workers, said, “This segment is a part of the huge informal sector and thus the existing labor laws are not applicable to domestic working women. There are no clear estimates of the total number of the domestic women workers, however, according to a study, every fourth household in the country hires [a] domestic worker.

The majority of these workers are Christian women who are often alleged for stealing, are raped, and are forced to convert to Islam,” Rehmat continued. “[Since] there are no existing laws and policies for domestic workers in Pakistan, therefore they often face persecution and are victimized.”

Kainat is only one of thousands of Christian domestic workers in Pakistan. While her case has now been closed, her story of persecution and injustice will likely not be the last. More must be done to protect the rights of Christian domestic workers in Pakistan both while they are working and when they are seeking justice against abusive employers.

For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]