Pakistan Christians attend Christmas Mass at a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019. Photo: AP / Muhammad Sajjad / NTB scanpix
Christian girls are being abducted, sexually abused, and forced into Islam with increasing frequency all throughout Pakistan. Moreover, everyone — including local police, court officials, and Islamic clerics — seem bent on facilitating this human rights tragedy.
Most recently, according to a September 16 report:
«A Christian 6 year old girl was beaten and raped after being forcibly taken to the home of a Muslim rapist in broad daylight. In a sickening twist the local Muslim community are threatening the Christian parents with violence, the rape of their other daughters and financial ruin if they proceed with a legal case against paedophile Muhammad Waqas (18 yrs)… Tabitha [the raped child] had been verbally abused, shouted at, slapped and beaten and forced to do a number of sex acts with Waqas. She had been stripped of her clothes and had described her terror that she would be killed by Waqas…»
Although various societal elements pressured her family to drop the case against the Muslim rapist and accept a financial settlement, her parents refused, demanding justice. As a result, two imams from local mosques warned Munir Masih, the girl’s father, that «we shall burn your house and take away your other daughters too, if you fail to comply.» He responded by gathering his family and fleeing to an undisclosed location in the middle of the night.
Although evidence for the case «was strong with eye witnesses» and included «a medical examiner who found evidence of rape and brutality and a positive match on DNA tracing with that of Waqas» — and despite the family’s perseverance for justice — the court granted the rapist bail.
«Tears rolled from the eyes of Munir while I hugged him in the yard of Lahore High Courts,» a legal representative of the family explained.
«The paedophile rapist who had sexually assaulted his daughter on many counts was granted bail and it caused him intense pain. It was excruciating for him to see the rapist of his tender-aged daughter released—I felt broken myself.»
This is just one of many examples of the sexual abuse of Christian girls and often their forced conversion to Islam. Below are a few more assaults in just the first nine months of 2020.
On April 26, Maira Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Christian girl, was abducted by a group of armed Muslim men, under the leadership of one Muhammad Naqash (subsequently, her «husband»). According to an initial report:
«Eye witnesses claim that Myra was attacked while she was traveling to her workplace as a domestic worker on Sunday afternoon…. Myra’s abductors forced her into a car and Myra tried to resist…. [The] abductors were armed and fired several shots into the air…. [T]he Christian girl’s family has filed a police report and is begging police to recover their relative…. [The girl’s mother] fears her daughter will be raped, forcefully converted to Islam, or even killed….»
In the ensuing weeks and months, the girl’s parents petitioned police and court officials to rescue their daughter. The authorities responded by concluding that Muhammad had produced a certificate proving that their 14-year-old daughter had willingly converted to Islam and married him. The parents pointed to discrepancies regarding her age and other indicators of forgery in the documentation, but even the Lahore High Court ruled in favor of the kidnapper-rapist.
Then, in late August, Maira managed to escape and flee to a police station, where she gave testimony, including how she was being «forced into prostitution» and «filmed while by being raped,» with threats that the video would be published unless she complied with the demands of her rapist «husband» and his friends. «They threatened to murder my whole family,» the 14-year-old girl said. «My life was at stake in the hands of the accused and Naqash repeatedly raped me forcefully.»
In an interview, a friend of Maira’s family described how the family is now in hiding and constantly on the run. They added:
«Maira is traumatized. She cannot speak. We want to take her to the doctor, but we are afraid we might be spotted. We are all very frightened, but we place our trust in God.»
Days before Maira escaped in August, a married Muslim father of four kidnapped Saneha Kinza, the 15-year-old daughter of a pastor, while she was walking to church for early morning prayers. According to the report:
«Saneha’s family fears that their daughter will be added to the growing number of Christian girls who, after a kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam, are married to Muslims… On July 28, Pastor Morris Masih’s family received a call from the kidnapper, who threatened them if they dared to take any action to bring Saneha home.»
In another instance, a group of 12 Muslim men, led by one Muhammad Irfan, broke into a Christian man’s household, «and tried to kidnap his [13-year-old] daughter, Noor, who they planned to rape and forcefully convert to Islam,» to quote from a July 26 report. «He often teased and disturbed my daughter in the streets, but we always ignored,» the girl’s mother later said, adding:
«Finally, Irfan forcibly entered into my house and intended to kidnap my daughter. However, we resisted. In response, he attacked and beat my entire family who got multiple injuries. My husband and others got injuries in the attack. However, police have not registered the case against Irfan and medical staff have not provided medical aid to the injured.»
The report adds:
«Local supporters of Irfan have issued threats against the family… [They] have threatened to burn down their house if they pursue legal action against Irfan and the other attackers.»
On April 11, a Muslim man kidnapped and sexually assaulted another Christian girl, aged 7. When Nadia’s father discovered she was missing on arriving home from work, he and others began a frantic search, and eventually found her in a field, «beaten and sexually assaulted.»
Two days earlier, on April 9, another group of Muslims attempted to kidnap Ishrat, aged 9. According to the report,
«[The] 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.'»
In order to justify marriage to a 14-year-old Christian girl who was previously abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and wed to a Muslim man, on February 3, during a hearing on the case of Huma Younus, the Sindh high court in Karachi ruled that men may marry underage girls once they have their period, in direct compliance with sharia, or Islamic law. «Our daughters are insecure and abused in this country,» Huma’s mother remarked. «They are not safe anywhere. We leave them at schools or home but they are kidnapped, raped, humiliated, and forced to convert to Islam.» Marriage to girls under the age of 18 is illegal according to the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, which the high court ignored to side with Muslims against Christians.
Discussing this particular incident, Napoleon Qayyum, executive director of the Pakistan Center of Law of Justice, said:
«Another Christian girl aged 14 was recently abducted and gang-raped by some Muslim youths… The victim is a student of grade nine and was abducted by four or five boys on her way to a local tuition center on Jan. 16, 2020. The abductors not only raped her but also obtained her signatures and thumb impressions on some papers.»
Although police recovered her, the rights activist expressed his «fears the suspects will use her signed documents to produce a fake marriage certificate and religion conversion letter in a bid to escape abduction and rape charges,» which, he said, «is common modus operandi of Muslims to confuse the court and avoid justice»:
«Moreover, the girls are also forced to give false statements in court that they have changed their religion of free will and had married of their own choice…. Girls belonging to minority communities often succumb to pressure and consideration for their family’s security, which has further emboldened the men belonging to the majority faith.»
In a somewhat similar case, on March 1, two Muslim men abducted Saima Javid, a 13-year-old Christian girl, while she fetched water outside the family home, forcibly converted her to Islam, and married her off to a Muslim. «I was deeply depressed and thought of committing suicide when I lost my daughter,» her mother shared. «Young Christian girls are not safe in this country. Muslims consider them as their property or slaves and therefore humiliate them as they wish.»
After confirming that «our daughters are often sexually harassed by influential Muslims,» the girl’s father added that «The police did not listen to us for five days,» and did so only after «the abduction went viral on social media.» As a result, on March 26, the 13-year-old Christian girl appeared in court where she «testified that she had been abducted and was forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry [a Muslim man].» Due to the negative publicity revolving around this particular case, a judge ordered her returned to her family. As the report explains, however, «This order marks a rare victory for Pakistani Christians affected by the issue of abduction, forced conversion, and forced marriage.»
The reason few authorities do anything and some even side with the abductors/rapists was explained by the Asian Human Rights Commission in a 2011 report:
«The situation is worse with the police who always side with the Islamic groups and treat minority groups as lowly life forms. The dark side of the forced conversion to Islam … involves the criminal elements who are engaged in rape and abduction and then justify their heinous crimes by forcing the victims to convert to Islam. The Muslim fundamentalists are happy to offer these criminals shelter and use the excuse that they are providing a great service to their sacred cause of increasing the population of Muslims.»
In short, «Christian girls are only meant for the pleasure of Muslim men» — to quote a group of Muslim men, seconds before they rammed their car into three young Christian girls, who had ignored their sexual advances while walking home from work; one died. Talking about this incident, one human rights activist said that police were «doing little to apprehend the young men and are allegedly delaying the investigative process»:
«In any other nation [than Pakistan] the perpetrators would be arrested, convicted for murder and sentenced for a long term…. Violence against Christians is rarely investigated and highly unlikely to be met with justice…. Women have a low status in Pakistan, but none more so than Christian women who find themselves under the grip or terror, especially after this attack. Muslim NGO Movement of Solidarity and Peace state[s] that around 700 Christian women in Pakistan are abducted, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year – that figure is almost two a day and the world does nothing.»
More recent statistics from 2019 indicate that «around 1000 girls from [Christian and other] religious minorities are forcibly converted to Islam every year. The numbers might [even] be higher as many cases are not even reported.»
Back in 2010, a Pakistani pedophile told his 9-year-old victim «not to worry because he had done the same service to other young Christian girls» — some of whom were then murdered — before mauling her. While discussing that particular incident, another human rights activist summarized the situation in Pakistan:
«It is shameful. Such incidents occur frequently. Christian girls are considered goods to be damaged at leisure. Abusing them is a right. According to the community’s mentality it is not even a crime. Muslims regard them as spoils of war.»
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again and Sword and Scimitar, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and a Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.