Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
In November 2014 the two sisters were the subject of a terrifying and horrific ordeal at the hands of three Muslim boys known to them from their village. They were targeted by the boys in the early evening, while out using a nearby field as a toilet, and abducted at gunpoint. The rapists struck because the girls are Christians, despised and deemed easy targets for abuse. Both their faith and poverty, which meant a total lack of safe facilities, rendered them extremely vulnerable to this kind of attack.
The BPCA has been supporting the family throughout by providing legal counsel, paying for the installation of toilet facilities in their home, and more recently we moved the girls to a safe house under the care of our officer Mehwish Bhatti. This was in the wake of taunts and threats to them from other young men in the community, and the youngest son being shot at. Two gunmen related to the rapists fired at the house in a bid to have them drop the case, narrowly missing the boy.
Far away from the village with its awful reminders, and the constant threats of further attack, both girls are steadily recovering from their ordeal and under our care have started to learn basic literacy and numeracy. They are also soon to commence a home based tailoring course which will give them the much needed skills they desire to help their family and lessen their poverty.
Mr Mustaq Gill, advocate for gang rape victims Sherish and Farzana, filed petition at the High Court, Lahore, for the cancellation of bail in advance of the hearing scheduled 30th March 2015. He has now informed us that the girls' case has been been hampered due to the police complaint (FIR) being changed twice, and that in the final report the girls' father Ilyas Masih did not make a complaint of abduction and rape against one of the boys, Muhammad Shazeem. This was due to the influence of a local Catholic priest who is friends with the boy's family. It is believed he accepted a bribe from them and withdrew his original statement. He then stated the boy is innocent as he was not a perpetrator, having only been a witness to the attack.
The court hearing was to take place 30th March but was rescheduled because of further interference in the case. Proceedings were hindered by an organisation, National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) who took it upon themselves, without any consultation or permission from the father, to also file for cancellation of bail. Advocate Gill informed them that he is acting for the father, and since he will be handing the case their services are not required. This fell on deaf ears and they submitted the appeal. Inevitably this created confusion, as it appeared there was two representatives for the same case, and the judge halted proceedings.
Mehwish Bhatti, our Pakistan Officer said:
"Too much delay in the court process makes things very stressful for the victims, which is not acceptable at all. "
It is imperative that these girls receive justice and that these rapists are not allowed to go free. It is extremely concerning that this case has already met with so many obstacles and that an organisation would interfere despite being informed that the case is in good hands. They clearly have no regard for Sherish and Farzana, or their father, and we would have to question their motives. It would not appear that their aim is justice for the girls, but rather a raised profile for themselves.
Alison Houghton, BPCA Lead Researcher said:
"I am disgusted, but sadly not surprised, that this case has already met with several obstacles. Initial police reluctance to register the crime, corruption, victim intimidation, and tampering with the court process by this organisation shows just how little importance is placed on Christians girls such as Sherish and Farzana, or their right to justice"
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With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan.