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A Muslim man forcibly married and converted a Christian woman to Islam after he abducted her following an impromptu request for cleaning services at his residence on 23rd July 2015. Two days ago Fouzia Sadiq (30 years), with the help of her brother Paris, was able to escape the clutches of Muhammed Nazir (60 years) who had tortured, raped and subjected her to a life of personal servitude.
Fouzia is now in a place of safety but remains in a country with a poor sense of justice, especially for Christians, and she can have no future there. The BPCA have written to the British Embassy and the UNHCR, both in Islamabad, calling for her to be given a humanitarian visa to allow her safety in the west.
Fouzia Sadiq, a mother of three children, worked as a bonded labourer (modern day slave) at the brick kilns of Muhammed Nazir. Although this practice is ostensibly illegal since 1990 under the Bonded Labor Act, the practice continues to pervade Pakistani society and economy through a lack of passion by the authorities to wipe out the ancient feudal practice. The family of Fouzia are all bonded labourers under the same agreement signed by the grandfather, who signed a contract with a thumb print at a time of need for the princely sum of £30. Sadly the buy out clause for each slave is around £1000 so generation after generation of this family have been subjected to this illegal working agreement unable to pay the extortionate price for their freedom. Fouzia's hours were shared between cleaning the home of Muhammed Nazir and working on the brick kiln, many other pretty Christian girls were also required to clean the home of the lecherous landlord where they have been subjected to ogling, harassment and unwanted sexual advances from him and other males within the home. Fouzia Bibi was not the first girl to be abducted to his home and it is believed that she will not be the last. In a travesty of justice Fouzia's family had to remain in the custody of the landlord, despite her kidnap, and have been forced to continue working for the abductor to their chagrin. We moved them away temporarily but had to return them to the place of their great hurt so we could enact the escape.
On the day of her kidnap Fouzia was on a day off and was called in an emergency to clean the home of the landlord who was expecting guests. After she left for this service she never returned home. Initially Fouzia's brother Paris visited the home of the landlord with his mother to inquire about her delayed return home. They were sent home and told she would be arriving home soon. The next day after she still had not returned the family again approached the home of their landlord. This time they were aggressively sent away and told not to return for her again as she had committed herself to marriage with the landlord and was now his property. Her distraught family approached local police and asked for an investigation into her kidnap. Pattoki police however were extremely obstructive until the BPCA's Mehwish Bhatti arrived and challenged them on their failure to register an FIR for the abduction of Fouzia. Eventually an FIR was registered No. 518/15, which detailed the concerns of the family about her abduction and potential sale into sexual slavery. Despite all the evidence provided Pattoki police in usual perfunctory fashion were unable to find Fouzia, a feat unskilled BPCA detectives were able to undertake with consummate ease.
BPCA hired a Muslim lawyer who will we not name at this stage, who had been referred to us by a Christian minister in the UK, he believed the advocate was honest and had integrity. However, the lawyer after meeting the local imam and viewing the forced marriage videos, deliberately delayed the court process and informed us that in his belief the marriage was a genuine marriage. The family however kept in touch with us and through a secret phone that was delivered to Fouzia a plan was set for her escape.
Two days ago Fouzia and her brother contacted our officer and they are recuperating at a relatives home. In reaction to the escape the landlord's family have informed local police that Fouzia has stolen gold jewellery. Irrespective of the lack of any proof Pattoki police visited Fouzia's ailing and disabled father at her home on the same day as her escape, and have threatened to make an arrest of an innocent member from the family unless she is returned to the landlord. Afraid that this would result in the capture of their remaining unmarried youngest daughter in exchange for Fouzia, we have moved her to safety also. The family have been fortunate that Fouzia's brother Paris was with her during the escape and the father was disabled. It is believed that one of the men would have been arrested and tortured in prison over her escape had it not been for this circumstance. BPCA was forced to inform the Pakistani High Commission in the UK of the incident after a serious of further visits from local police. They have yet to respond on how they will help the victims. Fouzia has not yet been reunited with her three children Muqadas (9 years), Saniya (7 Years), Sahil (5 years), but we do hope to reunite them soon. Fouzia has exhibited signs of extreme trauma and has not yet spoken to us about the abduction. Her brother Paris who has chaperoned her through the escape after receiving a call from her, said:
"God has worked a miracle. I never thought I would see my sister again! our whole family has grieved her loss as if she was dead. Now she is free we will do whatever we can to make sure she is not forced backed into the depravity her Muslim captor subjected her to. We ask for the prayers and support from Christians everywhere. There is a huge injustice happening in Pakistan and if you do not protect us and ignore our plight one day it could be your daughters and sisters that are trapped. I pray Christians respond to our pain and offer help as we are desperate and need your assistance."
Tragedies such as these sadly are not rare, but commonplace, and in their April 2014 report "Movement of Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan" stated that 1000 girls are abducted, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year, 700 of which are estimated to be Christian girls. They cited:
"....cases of forced marriages/conversions follow a distinctive pattern: Christian girls — usually between the ages of 12 and 25 — are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party. The victim’s family usually files a First Information Report (FIR) for abduction or rape with the local police station. The abductor, on behalf of the victim girl, files a counter FIR, accusing the Christian family of harassing the willfully converted and married girl, and for conspiring to convert the girl back to Christianity. Upon production in the courts or before the magistrate, the victim girl is asked to testify whether she converted and married of her own free will or if she was abducted. (In most cases, the girl remains in custody of the abductor while judicial proceedings are carried out). Upon the girl’s pronouncement that she willfully converted and consented to the marriage, the case is settled without relief for the family. Once in the custody of the abductor, the victim girl may be subjected to sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking and sale, or other domestic abuse."
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In Jan 2012, The News reported on a Muslim brothel that had been created with Christian rape and forced conversion victims, in a place called Ayub Goth, near the town of Essa Nagri in Karachi, only metres away from a Catholic Church. Moreover Muslim men gather in the very same Christian area every evening armed with guns and pick which houses they will loot and which girls will be raped. In one incident an elderly mother had to bear the screaming of her two daughters while she was behind a locked door in another room crying and praying. She has been quoted as saying:
“I saw two of my daughters being raped in front of me,” an old lady from Essa Nagri told The News. “It is considered that Chooras have no integrity.” She says that around midnight, men from other areas start gathering in their neighbourhood. “They are usually drunk. They choose which home they will plunder.”
Read article (click here)
The BPCA is currently providing shelter for the family of Sherish and Farzana and free legal aid, after the two sisters were abducted at gunpoint, brutalised and gang-raped for more than 12 hours. These sisters were then dumped naked and unconscious in the same field they were kidnapped from, and found by their father and a friend who had been up all night searching for them. The girls were left vulnerable as their annual earnings were £592 per year, meaning they could not afford a toilet at their home and had to use a local field to relieve themselves. When the sisters' family took the case to the local police they were ignored till humanitarian pressure resulted in an FIR being laid and arrests being made.
Learn more about Sherish and Farzana (click here)
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
"The pain felt by our sisters in Pakistan wounds the heart of our community. Latest victim Fouzia Bibi was a mother of three yet she may still be forced to remain in the forced Islamic marriage despite existing legal precedents from Lahore High court which clearly state that a “married Christian woman cannot be remarried to a Muslim even if converted. Sexual abuse against religious minority women was previously covered under Hadu’d law – which does not distinguish rape from adultery and gives the same punishment in both cases. These cases used to be trialled in Islamic Shari’a courts which forbid the appearance of non-Muslim lawyers in court. The new Women's Protection Bill brings rape under the Pakistan Penal Code, which is based on civil law, not Sharia (Islamic law). The Bill removes the right of police to detain people suspected of having sex outside of marriage, instead requiring a formal accusation in court. Under the changes, adultery and non-marital consensual sex is still an offence but now judges would be allowed to try rape cases in criminal rather than Islamic courts. This removes the need for the four witnesses and allows convictions to be made on the basis of forensic and circumstantial evidence.
The amendments also change the punishment for someone convicted of having consensual sex outside marriage to imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of Rs10,000. Rape would be punishable with 10 to 25 years of imprisonment but with death or life imprisonment if committed by two or more persons together, while adultery would remain under the Hudood ordinance and is punishable with stoning to death. A complaint of adultery must be made to a judge with at least four witnesses testifying under oath that they witnessed the act of penetration. A false allegation of this kind against Fouzia would mean certain death and is not outside the realms of impossibility in a world where the weight of a Muslim's words outweigh those of a Christian. Fouzia and her family simply have to be removed from Pakistan and granted safety in another country. Worse still, radical clerics and imams in their mosques and madrassas preach that if you rape non-Muslim minority women then you will obtain a special status in heaven."
The Quran itself is often construed as endorsing rape of this nature by referring to the rights of sexual intercourse with slaves, even in modern times bonded labourers are considered to be slaves and perhaps this is the justification needed by those with perverted desires such as Muhammed Nazir:
FROM THE QURAN - 4:24
"And all married women are forbidden unto you save those captives whom your right hand possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. (Muhammad Pickthall's English translation of the Quran).
This family desperately need our help and we have initiated an appeal for them. Our first priority is to provide a safe place for them to reside while their future is settled. Food and other provisions will have to be supplied for the family and many other costs involved in their advocacy.
If you would like to contribute towards our appeal you can find our bank details, paypal/visa payment facility (here)
Please pray that the family are set free from their bonded labour contract and the clutches of the lecherous landlord.
Pray that the Pakistan Authorities brings justice to these victims.
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Shamim Masih outside Pattoki police station
The FIR raised against abductor and rapist Muhammed Nazir
Fouzia's mother with Shamim Masih