Date: May 25, 2013
By BosNewsLife Asia Service
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- The family of an underage Christian girl who was raped by Muslims in Pakistan's Punjab province is pressured by police to withdraw her case against key suspects, a leading attorney told BosNewsLife Saturday, May 25.
Attorney Sardar Mushtaq Gill said 15-year-old Fouzia Bibi was raped January 25 by two armed Muslim relatives of her family's landlord. The attack allegedly happened after she was abducted while bringing milk to the landlord in Roday village of Kasur district. "Two Muslims armed with pistols imprisoned her in a room," Gill explained.
The suspects, named as Sher Muhammad and Shabir, later "raped and tortured" her. "No one could hear the cries of the minor girl as she was raped and left unconscious," added Gill, who defends the victim and her family.
In general, BosNewsLife publishes names of victims of abuse and suspects only if they are identified publicly.
Gill, director of advocacy group Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), said the girl's father Malooka Masih is now under police pressure to take back a complaint and agree that the suspects will not be prosecuted.
"I received a call that Masih's cousin, Alam Ashiq, was arrested on [false] charges filed against [other] unknown persons six months ago. Masih has been told that his cousin can only be released if he compromises with the rapists," the attorney explained.
The bail hearing of the rape suspects was to held at the regional Lahore High Court on May 31. Police and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
"There are many examples of such cases in which complainants are pressured with different tactics such as involving them in criminal cases," Gill said. Rights activists have expressed concerns about cooperation between Muslim hardliners and local police forces.
Gill said his LEAD organization has been asking for "financial and moral support" to continue defending Pakistan's minority Christians. Throughout heavily Islamic Pakistan Christian girls and women are known to have been raped. Many of them have been forced into marriages with Muslims and forced to concert, rights activists and church groups say.
"We pray that more people will have the same vision for the Persecuted Church, to be our partners in this noble cause. LEAD is a Christian organization not funded by any other organization," Gill said.