In an appalling display of the abuse suffered by vulnerable Pakistani Christians, a deaf Christian woman was gang-raped after three Muslim men broke into her home in the village of Ganda Singh Wala, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, according to a report published on 26 October.
Despite her screams, no one came to her rescue, and the men of the family were away from the house, at work.
One arrest has been made, but Pakistani police are often reluctant to make prosecutions in cases such as this, often siding with the Muslim majority population. “Often in these cases the police take no action or, worse, side with the rapists”, said Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill. “Christian families or witnesses are pressured to withdraw complaints.”
Sidelined in society, many of the country’s believers are poor and powerless in the face of persistent discrimination and violence. Christian women and girls are particularly vulnerable. According to a report published by the Movement of Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan in April 2014, over 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriages every year.
Fouzia Sadiq, a 26-year-old married Christian mother-of-three, was kidnapped by her Muslim employer and was forcibly converted to Islam and married to her kidnapper on 23 July in the town of Burj Mahalam, Chak No. 35, Pattoki, in Pakistan's Punjab province.
“Violence against women and children of religious minorities, the weak and vulnerable, is widespread in Pakistan and is often carried out in silence,” said Sardar Mushtaq Gill. “These cases and the stories do not come to light and when victims talk about it they are intimidated.”