Raped on Christmas
A 12-year-old Christian girl was gang raped repeatedly, forced to convert to Islam and was then married to one of her attackers in Lahore. I got to know about this case a few days ago, and since then, I have not been able to overcome feelings of disgust and sorrow. I have been unable to sleep.
An FIR was filed against unknown people on January 5, 2011 – FIR No 18/11, to the Factory Area Police Station, district Shaikhupura, Lahore. When I called the concerned police station to make inquiries the sub-inspector was hesitant to talk about the incident. However, when I strictly asked him about the case (pretending to be a crime-reporter) he asked me to call him later. Eventually, he told me the case was filed against unknown persons by the father of the victim.
I learnt that Mary*, 12, daughter of Mr Asif*, who is employed as a sweeper at WAPDA, resident of, Shahdara, Lahore, was kidnapped by two men alleged to be the members of a banned religious organization.
According to the sub-inspector she was abducted on Christmas Eve while her parents were not in the house.
Mary was then driven to a distant place where she was dropped off to a house and gang raped repeatedly for many days. Moreover, she was forced to sign marriage documents to one of the perpetrators. She was then taken to several places and beaten until she converted to Islam.
It is very distressing but not surprising to realize that the police did not take any action for eight months despite the filed case.
According to a report published by the Asian Human Rights, in the first week of September 2011, after more than eight months of her abduction, Mary called her family from Tandianwalla, district Faisalabad, 190 kilometers from Lahore, and told them that she had been kidnapped but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop. Her devastated parents, subsequently rushed there and recovered her. She was brought back to her home and her parents took her before the First Class Magistrate, factory area, Shahdara, who recorded her statement under section 164 Criminal Prosecution Code, but did not order any action for her protection or a medical checkup.
The rapists then immediately contacted the police through their religious group affiliation and produced a marriage certificate showing that one of them was married to her. When Mary’s parents went to the factory area police station to change the FIR to include the names of the rapists in the case, the police refused point blank and insisted that it would be better to hand over the girl to her ‘legal husband’, otherwise legal action could be taken against them.
It is tremendously sad to know that this Christian family is hiding, not only from the rapists but also from the police.
Ironically, the police never thought to ask the alleged men how a girl of 12 years of age could be married when, according to the law, marriage under the age of 16 is illegal. This is yet another example of how the Punjab provincial Government is supporting banned militant organizations.
It is not surprising that the government, which always claims that religious minorities are enjoying security and rights like other citizens, turns a blind eye. Even law enforcement authorities prefer to work under the pressure of the religious extremist groups.
My telephonic conversation with the sub inspector also revealed that the names of the alleged criminals, have still not been included in the FIR and the case is either pending or has been closed.
With absolutely no hope from the government or ‘free judiciary’, I request the media, activists and human rights organizations, to investigate the case of the innocent victim and prosecute all the perpetrators involved in the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl for eight months. The police officers, who failed to act on the complaint of the victim’s father, must be prosecuted for their negligence and support of the criminals.
Where is the girl and her family now? On what money are they surviving?
Has Mary received any treatment? We don’t know.
However, the one thing we do know is that they are definitely not safe.
*Name has been changed to protect the victim’s identity.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.