In the Punjab’s Narowal district, a young Christian woman, pregnant with twin girls, was beaten by a band of Muslims on May 8, causing her to miscarry. It is thought that the attackers intended to intimidate the family into dropping their charges that the woman’s 13-year-old niece was raped on March 29 by three men, one of whom, Irfan, is the son of former police inspector Safdar Bajwa.
In an interview with Compass Direct News the woman’s husband, Asher Masih, explained that the charges claim that the 13-year-old “had gone to a nearby field to use the toilet when she was forcibly taken away by three men later identified as Irfan and Shahid. Their third accomplice remains unidentified as yet,” Masih said. “At first we thought that she might have stopped at some neighbor’s house, but when she did not return after a long time, we set out to look for her.” A neighbor reported to the family that he had seen Irfan and two others taking the girl to an outhouse. The family rushed to the site, but Irfan and his accomplices fled, Masih said. They found the girl inside, raped and badly injured.
The local police initially refused the family’s attempt to file a First Information Report (FIR). Safdar Bajwa first denied that his son was involved in the case, but when several Muslim villagers started visiting the police station with the victim’s family, the accused surrendered a servant identified as Shahid to police, saying he had raped the girl, Masih said. Though support from other villagers has forced the police into action, Irfan has yet to be arrested. Relatives of the accused have now made several attempts to force the family to drop the charges.
“In April, Irfan and his accomplices illegally grabbed a piece of land owned by us,” Masih told Compass. They did this to pressure us into giving up the case, but we stood our ground. We are poor, but we chose not to compromise on our honor.” The Muslim family used various other tactics to compel the victim’s family to drop the charges, and when those efforts failed, they attacked their house on May 8.
“All three male members of our family, including my father, brother and myself, were out for work when Irfan Safdar and his accomplices trespassed into our house and started beating up my mother, sister-in-law and my wife, who was in her fifth month of pregnancy, mercilessly,” Masih said. Masih’s elderly mother said she pleaded for the attackers to spare his wife, but they did not listen. “They murdered our children, they raped our daughter,” she said. “We have nothing left with us.”
Masih said that the family has registered case No. 184/12 against Irfan Safdar and nine others, but the suspects managed to get pre-arrest bails with the help of police. Their interim bails were to end on May 22. “We know they will be able to influence their way out of this case as well,” he said. ‘There is no justice for the poor and helpless in Pakistan, especially if you belong to a minority community.” Thus far, he added, they have received no assistance from any government or Christian organization. “We cannot leave the village, because we don’t have any other place or means to go,” he said. “The villagers are giving moral support to us, but we need help in facing this situation. In villages, it is the police that matter, and in this case, the entire police machinery is working against us.”
We weep, Father, over the violence and injustice experienced by this family in Pakistan. Comfort them in their grief over the loss of their twin girls. Heal the physical and emotional wounds that surely must have been suffered by the girl who was raped. Thank you for the support of their neighbors, even their Muslim neighbors. Grant them wisdom and courage as they continue legal battles and bring about justice for this poor family. Hear the cries of their hearts and help them to know our prayers for them and Your very presence in their midst. In the name of Jesus who understands our suffering, Amen.