• “My soul was filled and overwhelmed with light, and love, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and seemed just ready to go away from the body. I could scarcely refrain from expressing my joy aloud, in the midst of the service. I had in the mean time, an overwhelming sense of the glory of God, as the Great Eternal All, and of the happiness of having my own will entirely subdued to his will. I knew that the foretaste of glory, which I then had in my soul, came from him, that I certainly should go to him, and should, as it were, drop into the Divine Being, and be swallowed up in God.” – Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards

Pakistan: Christians remain fearful of rape and forced conversion of women to Islam

A student nurse had received threats and demands from a Muslim to convert to Islam. She was abducted by the man and his brothers. When her family protested, they were threatened with dire consequences by the authorities.
Farah Hatim 24, D/o Hatim Gill ( Late) is a student nurse at the Sheikh Zaid Medical College in Rahim Yar Khan in the South Punjab region of Pakistan. Employed at the Orthopedic ward,on 8 May 2011 at around 7am, Farah Hatim left to report for duty; she was allegedly kidnapped by Zeehan Iliyas from Jinnah Park near the Sheikh Zahid Medical College.

According to Farah’s mother, Bilquees Marriam Zeeshan Iliyasis an office boy at United Bank Limited and had been demanding that Farah should convert to Islam and marry him. Marriam stated, ” Zeehan Iliyas and his brothers Imran and Gulfam who also work at a local bank helped him in kidnapping my daughter.” She further said that this family kidnaps Christian girls and forcefully converts them, they are supported by the local MNAs ( Member National Assembly) of the leading political party.

Bilquees Marriam along with her four daughters and two sons went to the police station to file a complaint at the B- Division City Police Station. The application has been submitted by Huma Hatim, Seher Hatim, Summar Hatim, Amber Hatim, Qasim Gill and Hashim Gill. Initially they were not entertained. SHO ( Station House Officer) B-Division Police Station Nazir Shah tore the application and asked them to leave as nothing can be done. The victim`s family gathered the Christian Community and protested outside the SP ( Superintendent Police) office and demanded to arrest the culprits and recover the kidnapped girl.

The police tried to scatter the protesters they used force, they injured several protesters. The victims`s family was threatened with dire consequences. But the family didn’t give up they gathered again and demanded a meeting with SP Ashraf Gujjar. Finally SP Gujjar agreed to have a meeting and the Hatim Family explained the whole situation and demanded to get the FIR ( First Information Report) registered. SP Ashfaq Gujjar instructed the SHO ( Station House Officer) B-Division Police Station to register a FIR on the application submitted by the family.

The Christian community gathered outside the B-Divison Police Station, but the SHO Nazir Shah delayed FIR, providing time to the culprits to take Farah Hatim to the to district courts and forced her to give a statement in the presence of Juctice Khurshid Shah that she has converted with her consent and wants to marry Zeehan Ilyas. This was to provide legal cover to the culprits. At this point the justice didnt question Farah Hatim, nor she had signed the statement, she was injured, the judge even ignored the injuries.

The victim`s family has ruled out the forced statement, Barrister Zahid Hussain a legal expert from Rahim Yar Khan said, “legally when such a statement is given at the district court, the judge send everyone out and questions only the person, if the statement given is under pressure or by consent, but in this case the court room was filled with the people who kidnapped her and assaulted her. Even the SHO Nazir Shah was present there, the judge even ignored the fact that Farah Hatim was injured, he didnt question her about the wounds, she didnt even sign the statement, this clearly shows that she was forced to give the statement and the whole system is supporting and protecting the culprits.”

On 10th May 2011, the victim`s family gave another application to SP Ashfaq Gujjar and told him that the SHO Shah is threatening them, SP Gujjar visited the B-Division and got the FIR Registered. SHO Nazir Shah registered the FIR. Case No. 150/11 US/ 365-B CR.PC. The FIR is against three culprits, but not as stated in the application. So far the police has not arrested anyone.

Human Rights Activist Mr. Rizwan Paul from Life for All visited Rahim Yar Khan, met the victimized family, assured the support and took them to the DCO ( District Coordination Office) Rahim Yar Khan. DCO Dr. Ahmad Javed Qazi has assured his support to the family and directed the SP Ashfaq Gujjar to arrest the culprits and recover the kidnapped girl and present her at the district court and get the statement again. Mr. Paul said, ” The south Punjab is the safe heaven for the extremists, the number of the cases of persecution are the highest in South Punjab.

There are many cases that go unreported. Unfortunately the administration is protecting the culprits, the local politicians are also protecting them. Hatred for the Christians is common here, most of them are treated as animals. We have highlight several cases of forced conversions and brought it in the notice of the authorities, but they put a deaf ear over it. Last year during the flood relief activities, gross discrimination was witnessed in Rahim Yar Khan with the religious minorities.”
Rodrick Samson reports for Spero from Pakistan.


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