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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_1632492889758{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”112121″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]09/25/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In recent months, a disturbing spike in sexual assaults against Christian women and girls in Pakistan has been documented by International Christian Concern (ICC). In July and August alone, ICC discovered 12 incidents in which a Christian woman or girl was sexually assaulted or abducted, forcefully converted to Islam, and forcefully married to one of her abductors.

In Pakistan, Christian women and girls are doubly vulnerable to persecution. This is due to both their religious identity as Christians and their gender. Below is a summary of the incidents of persecution documented by ICC in the months of July and August 2021.

On July 5, Muhammad Akbar, a Muslim man, filed a police report against Shamim Bibi, a Christian mother of five, claiming that Shamim had converted to Islam and married him. Muhammad filed the report despite Shamin living with her Christian family in the district of Sheikhupura. Shamim refused the allegation and reported that Akbar was attempting to forcibly convert her to Islam.

On July 7, Aleesha, a 9-year-old Christian girl and resident of St. Paul Christian Colony in Hyderabad, was raped by a 45-year-old Muslim man named Baber. On the day of incident, Aleesha was alone in her house when Babar forcefully entered the home, beat Aleesha, and raped her.

On July 18, Samina, age 18, was abducted in front of her parents by Muhammad Ramzan and forcibly converted to Islam in Sangla Hill. The family continues to fight Ramazan to recover custody of their abducted daughter.

On July 21, Kainat, age 16, was abducted at gunpoint and raped by Muhammad Adeel while her parents were at work.

On July 26, Abroo, age 18, was abducted from Wazirabad by a Muslim man when she was on her way home from work. Police managed to find her the next day by tracking her phone.

On July 28, Chashman, age 14, was abducted in Faisalabad. A few days later, the abductors sent the family a video and documents claiming Chashman had converted to Islam of her free will.

On July 31, Reena Nazir, age 17 and a resident of Jinnah Garden in Faisalabad, was abducted from her home by Muhammad Waqas and several other Muslim men. They entered the home, beat Reena and her mother, then took away Reena. Police initially hesitated to file a report. Reena was gang raped repeatedly for five days and later found unconscious in the street on August 5.

In July, the exact date was hard to determine, Simran Iqbal, age 15, and Sheeza Ghafoor, age 14, were abducted from their residences in Nankana Sahib and raped for ten days by Muslim men.

On August 3, Princy, age 15, was abducted from her home in the Haripur district by Akhtar Shah. Shah and his Muslim family reportedly expressed their interest in Shah marrying Princy. When Princy’s parents refused, she was abducted and forcibly married to him on August 9.

On August 9, Muqdus Nadeem, age 16, was abducted at gunpoint while at her home in the village of Peer Mehal in Pakistan’s Punjab province. According to the FIR # 779/21, “On the incident day Muhammad Azeem, a Muslim, along with five other unidentified men intruded into the Christian family home with guns, beat and abused two girls Muqadas (16) and Mehwish (12) and kidnapped Muqadas by dragging her in the street.”

On August 21, Mumtaz Bibi, a mother of four, was abducted in Sitara Sapna. According to Amir Rashid, a local pastor, Bibi was a domestic worker and had often complained about being harassed by a group of Muslim men. On the day of the incident, she was abducted while walking on the street. She remains missing.

While 12 cases were documented by ICC over the course of these two months, the actual number of incidents of persecution against Christian women and girls is likely to be much higher.

According to a 2014 study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian community are abducted, forcefully married to their captor, and forcibly converted to Islam every year. The issue of religion is also often injected into cases of sexual assault to place religious minority victims at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing the element of religion.

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