A 13-year-old Christian brick kiln worker was allegedly raped by a man in the Jhok Shegham area of Kasur district on gunpoint.
According to an FIR [First Information Report] filed by the victim’s father, a copy of which is available with Kross Konnection, Nisha Bibi had on March 17, gone to a nearby sugarcane field to relieve herself when two armed men, namely Bilal and Nasir, approached her.
“They threatened to behead my daughter before pulling her into the sugarcane field. Nasir raped her while Bilal stood guard. Hearing her cries, two Christian locals reached the spot and the culprits fled,” the father, Emmanuel Masih, stated in the FIR registered on March 20 under Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
An activist helping the family, Khurram Gill, told Kross Konnection that Nasir had been arrested whereas his accomplice, Bilal, had secured pre-arrest bail.
“The police are cooperating with us but Masih and his family are under severe pressure from the accused to drop the case,” he said, adding that the victim’s family had to relocate due to the threats.
“They remain unable to return to their hometown and get back to work… justice should be served,” Gill added.
The accused are yet to undergo a DNA test, he told Kross Konnection.
Read more: Minor Christian girl raped in Sahiwal
It merits a mention here that Masih and his daughter are among millions of bonded labourers in Pakistan where bondage and labour exploitation are most deeply entrenched, affecting the lives of poor laborers and their families, especially those belonging to the country’s vulnerable religious minorities.
Many kiln managers provide loans to workers who are then unable to repay them and have no choice but to work as slaves — a practice that is widespread in southern Punjab and Sindh despite being outlawed in 1992.
Christians make up two percent of the country’s 220 million population and most languish at the bottom of the social ladder. Largely uneducated, they work as sweepers, trash collectors, farmhands, and other menial labourers.
The situation, however, is equally challenging for well-educated minority women serving in the government and private sector. Last week, Sarah Benjamin, a Grade-17 government employee, shared her ordeal that began after she objected to sexual advances of her Muslim superior official.
The challenges facing Pakistani women, particularly members of the minority communities, do not end here. Pooja Kumari, an 18-year-old Hindu, was last week shot in the head at her home in Sukkur. The murder suspect, Wahid Bux Lashari, who has been arrested, wanted to marry the teenager but she refused, police said.
Cases of rape, forced conversions and honour killings are reported across the country.
In 2021 alone, a total of 540 complaints pertaining to rape, murder, forced conversion, and kidnapping were registered with the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women.
Sindh Women Protection Cell reported a total of 6,842 cases of violence against women during the same time period, of which 142 pertained to rape.
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a total of 343 cases of rape and 1,522 cases of abduction were reported by women in 2021.