The family of two Pakistani Christian teenagers, who were gang-raped at gunpoint in the Punjab Province by four Muslim men, is saying that they are being threatened by influential people in their village and warned not to press charges against the attackers.
The father of the two victims, Ilyas Masih, told police that his daughters, 16-year-old Sehrish and 14-year-old Farzana, went outside of their house in the village of Jaranwala during the middle of the night on Dec. 3 to go to the bathroom, since there are no bathrooms inside the house. But when the girls went outside, they did not return. The family began to frantically worry and filed a missing person’s complaint with the local police, in which a search was launched to find them.
The two teens were found the next afternoon laying unconscious along the side of the road several miles away from their home village. The girls were taken to a hospital and later told police that a well-known local landlord and three other men had taken them at gunpoint, took them away and raped them.
“In their statement to the police the girls alleged that a local landlord Muhammad Shabaz and his three accomplices abducted them at gunpoint and took them to a deserted place where they ‘gang-raped us,'” a local police official told PTI.
A local pastor named Razaq, who was told of the details incident by the two girls and has tried to organize legal representation for the poor family, told GlobalNewsCentre.com that the men threatened to shoot the girls if they did not go with them. Razaq added that once they got to the deserted location, the men ripped the girls clothes off and gang-raped them “many times.”
According to a report by Release International, an advocacy group speaking out for persecuted Christians, the family claims to have been threatened against pressing charges. Additionally, the family also claims that the local police have “obstructed attempts to gather medical evidence.”
Partners with Release International have vowed to provide the girls with the medical and legal assistance they need
Razaq explained that Shahbaz and his three accomplices were all Muslim and had previously been accused of rape by another Christian family in the village. Razaq added that the other Christian family compromised on a settlement after being pressured by influential people in the village to drop the lawsuit. Razaq fears that Masih and his daughters will continue to face the same pressure to settle out of court.
The police official said that Shahbaz has already been arrested, as the police found him when they were searching the known hideouts of the other three men involved in the incident.
The two girls have been so traumatized by the incident, that they are afraid to leave the house to use the restroom, and instead are using buckets inside of their house. According to GlobalNewsCentre.com, The Pakistan Legal Evangelical Association Development is collecting donations so that they can install a bathroom inside of the girls’ home.
The Release International report also indicates that many of its partners have reported a “sharp rise” in the number of Christian girls being attacked in Pakistan.
Release International cited another incident in the Punjab Province that occurred in late November where a 14-year-old Christian was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry her captor. Local Christians and Muslims are involved in negotiations to have the girl returned to her family, but, so far to no avail.
Also in November, Shoebat.com reported on a 16-year-old Christian girl who was tied and raped by six Muslim men, who owned the brick kiln where she is enslaved as a bonded laborer. In August, Fides reported on a 12-year-old Christian girl who was kidnapped by two Muslim men and three Muslim women and was later raped inside of a closed school by the men.
Pakistan currently sits at No. 8 on the Open Doors’ World Watch List of worst countries for Christian freedom.