A 13-year-old Pakistani Christian girl was raped in a rural area near the city of Gujranwala, north of Lahore, on Sunday (14 January), as she worked in the fields.
The girl was found by her younger cousin, and taken to hospital. The local police station has registered a case and yesterday (16 January) the girl was taken to Lahore for a DNA examination.
Her father, whose name is being withheld to protect the girl’s identity, has spent over 30 years as a bonded labourer in the village, working under one man. There are only four Christian families in the village. All are extremely poor and work as labourers.
As the girl’s father, who has seven children, is now old and has severe asthma, his daughter helps him to take care of the cattle under his charge.
“My daughter works from early morning to noon everyday with the cattle and I accompany her,” he told World Watch Monitor. “It was Sunday and our family was attending a wedding, so my daughter went to work along with her younger cousin. When I returned and found she hadn’t come home, I went to check at the workplace. Near the fields, I found her cousin tied with her dopatta [a piece of cloth used for head covering].
“She told us that a man called Zaman Khan tied her and forcibly took my daughter to the fields, while injuring her with a sickle. When I reached the fields, she was still yelling for help.
“Hearing me approaching, Zaman fled from the scene, and we took my daughter to the hospital.”
Khan, 28, is from a nearby village and had been put to work under the same man only a few days before.
“When the landlord heard [about the incident], he got quite upset and got it announced in nearby mosques, and only because of his personal efforts was Zaman apprehended,” the girl’s father said. “The entire village is on our side despite only four Christian families living in the village.”
Assistant Sub-Inspector Adnan Shahzad, the investigating officer in the case, told World Watch Monitor: “Zaman is in police custody and being interrogated. After this he will be sent to jail.”
This incident took place at a time when the entire Pakistani nation is in mourning for a seven-year-old girl, named Zainab, who was raped and then brutally murdered – a case that has made international headlines.
Christian parliamentarian Mary Gill, who visited the Christian girl’s family, asked whether the same anger would be felt over a girl from a religious minority as was felt for Zainab, a Muslim.
“Will we also speak up for this Christian child, as we did for Zainab?” she asked on Facebook. “… We cannot now save Zainab, but we are responsible for bringing the culprits to justice.”