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04/15/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On April 9, a young Christian girl named Ishrat was assaulted by a group of Muslim men in the village of Qutiba, located in the Kasur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. According to a statement given to police, the Muslim men were attempting to kidnap Ishrat after she refused to convert to Islam and marry one of the assailants.

The April 9 assault took place while Ishrat was walking in the street in Qutiba. There, a group of Muslim men approached her and asked her to convert to Islam and marry Asim, one of the men in the group. When Ishrat refused, the men beat Ishrat, made derogatory remarks against Ishrat and Christianity, and attempted to kidnap Ishrat. The kidnapping, however, was averted as local villagers intervened.

According to Ishrat, another man in the group named Ijaz had been harassing her before the assault. Ishrat claims that Ijaz followed her for a long time in an attempt to develop a physical relationship.

Ishrat and her family reported the assault to local police. However, after reporting the incident, a group of armed Muslims attacked Ishrat’s family home. According to Ishrat’s family, the group threatened the family with severe consequences for “creating hurdles to their mission.

Assaults on women and girls from Pakistan’s religious minority communities are unfortunately common. According to a study led by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian community are assaulted, kidnapped, forcefully married to their assailant, and forcefully converted to Islam every year.

The issue of religion is often injected into cases of sexual assault to place religious minority victims at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, assailants know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].