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For more details on the two sisters please click here
Gang rape victims Sherish and Farzana, who had to flee their town after two gunmen shot at their home, are now staying in our safe house in a town far away from Jaranwala. Although they miss their family intensely they have adjusted to their surroundings well.
Sherish the younger of the two, (14 years), has shown great progress in learning English and Urdu and she has already mastered the English alphabet in capital letters. This might seem like a small step to many of you, but I assure you this is a huge milestone. These girls have had absolutely no formal schooling and did not know a letter of any alphabet. Farzana, (18 years), is still struggling to learn as quickly as Sherish, but has a grasp of the early letters of the English Alphabet. Both of them have a partial understanding of the Urdu Alphabet.
"Learning to read and write is amazing, I never thought I would be given a chance like this. It is hard learning all the new things that are being taught, but I am eager to improve so one day I can help my family escape poverty."
The girls are being taught for now by Mehwish our Pakistan Officer, as their current base is not adequate enough for the mainstream education system. Their age and rudimentary learning level means they will be placed with children much younger, which would be both demoralising and prohibited.
We are struggling to get the sisters on vocational training as they will need to learn basic Urdu and they speak a very rural Punjabi. However, Mehwish has set this as a priority and will be working on getting their conversational Urdu to an adequate level. We are also hoping to raise funds for a sewing machine so that we can find a Punjabi speaking trainer who can teach them at home.
The girls were asked what they would like to learn and they suggested baking classes and tailoring as tailoring work can be quite lucrative, and would earn significantly more than their family earned making carpets. They could support their family after completing such a course, which seems to be a direction they adamantly want to head towards. These are very caring, family orientated girls and we hope to unite them with their family at a secret location in the next few weeks.
The father complained to us about contrivance between the solicitor selected by the local priest from their Catholic church and families of the rapists. He believes the priest took a bribe from the rapists families which was organised by the Muslim solicitor who is closely linked. To counter any future similar poor legal practice, we have organised a new Advocate for the family, Mushtaq Gill, a Christian solicitor from Lahore who is very experienced with Humanitarian cases. Mushtaq will be paid all his travel expenses and we will also cover the travel expenses for the family members to and from the court.
"Ilyas Masih, father of the girls, said;
"I am now more committed to fighting my daughters legal battle than ever before. Mushtaq Gill has explained how he intends to challenge the bail and I believe God will help him. He is not only legally qualified but is also a committed Christian, which fills me with great confidence."
The two girls have been diagnosed with low blood pressure and we have had to pay for their hospital and medical fees to get them back to full health. Thanks to your donations we are able to secure the girls for a longer period, however we are finding costs for their upkeep will increase due to their need for medical support and the vocational training we hope to place them on. Moreover we are now having to pay for travel costs to and from the court for all the family members and the Solicitor, who has agreed this case that is being held far from his home town.
Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry said:
"We connected the family to a legal counsel some distance from the hatred and threats of Jaranwala, which we believe will prevent intimidation. We trust God will help with the additional costs for the work we have undertaken, and hope that our work with this family will lead to justice and a way out of their poverty."
The two girls are under the protection of the BPCA and will be with us for a long term.