Sharp rise in number of Christian girls being attacked in Pakistan

The assault on Christian girls in Pakistan continues, and the number of cases has risen to an alarming rate.

One of the most recent incidents targeting the country's Christian minority is the alleged rape of two teenage girls at gunpoint in Pakistan's Punjab province.

(Photo: Reuters)

Release International reports that the girls, aged 14 and 16, were attacked on their way to the toilet in a village in Jaranwala district on November 28.

According to the Deccan Herald, the victims' father filed a complaint with the local police when his daughters did not return.

The girls were found unconscious on a road several kilometers from the village. They were rushed to the district headquarters hospital and declared out of danger.

Station house officer Lundianwala Muhammad Nasir said that a First Information Report (FIR) has been filed against the suspects and that Muhammad Shabaz, one of the four suspects, has been arrested.

The girls' family said however that they have been threatened not to press charges and that the police have impeded efforts to gather medical evidence.

There have been similar stories in the press in recent months. published a story of one attack on a 16-year-old Christian girl, Saba Bibi, in which she was tied up and raped in turn by six Muslim men.  

Agenzia Fides reported the rape of a 12-year-old Christian girl named Muqadas in August.  Muqadas, who served as a maid for a Muslim family, was on her way home from work when she was "kidnapped by two Muslim men and three women. They took her inside a school (which was closed) and the two men, identified as Ashraf Alias Achi and Ghaffor Alias Paida, raped her repeatedly in turn. The girl was later abandoned."

The victim's family also received threats of violence when they filed a complaint.

According to the Assyrian International News Agency, the family's lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill said, "In Pakistan, rape is used as an instrument of arbitrary power over Christian girls, who come from poor and marginalised families. It is a form of violence that wants to reiterate the submission to Muslims."

Gill added, "The rest of society is not outraged because the victims mostly belong to religious minorities, who are the most vulnerable."

Sadly, Christian girls face more than rape in Pakistan. According to South Asia Partnership Pakistan provincial coordinator Shahnaz Sheedi, the "statistics on constantly increasing forced marriages and conversions are quite worrying."

Sheedi said that in 2014 alone, 260 cases were reported from Punjab, 69 in Sindh, 39 in K-P, and six in Balochistan.

Release partners say Christians who are forcibly converted to Islam are at "high risk" of extremist attack if they are seen not to adhere to Islamic codes.