Gulfam, a nine year old Catholic girl, was raped by a Muslim man in the district of Samundari Tehsil, in the district of Faisalabad, Pakistan. The child is in a state of shock and suffering both physical and psychological trauma.
Reports came from sources within the Church, expressing its deep concern at the conditions of the poorest Christian families: the victims of discrimination, violence and abuse. “The incident is terrifying. I met the victims and I expressed my regret to them. I believe we must consider a pastoral and legal strategy, in an effort to stem the phenomenon of the abuse of Christian girls,” said Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad in an interview.
Gulfam (“like a flower”) is 9 years old (her surname is not revealed out of respect for the family) and is enrolled in the third grade. She lives in village in the district of Tehsil Samundari. On December 10 she returned from school to bake chapatti bread with her sister-in-law. She went with her with her 7-year-old cousin to collect firewood in a nearby sugarcane field. After a short time, the cousin came home and reported that Gulfam had been dragged away by a man. When relatives arrived at the scene, they caught the rapist red-handed, who then immediately fled.
Gulfam's mother took the half-naked girl home. Then the parents went to the police to report the rape, who then arrested the suspect. But the family is terrified because the village is mainly Muslim. The relatives of the rapist have already tried to intimidate Gulfam's family withdraw the charges. The girl said when she refused the rapist's offer of money, he then taped her mouth and assaulted her. The assailant reportedly told his victim “not to worry because he had done the same service to other young Christian girls.”
“It is shameful. Such incidents occur frequently. Christian girls are considered goods to be damaged at leisure. Abusing them is a right. According to the community's mentality it is not even a crime. Muslims regard them as spoils of war,” local sources report.
Gulfam is now under the care of some Catholic women religious. The same sisters tearfully described their outrage and pain for little Gulfam and for other Christian girls abused by wealthy Muslims.
Other similar cases include the October 2010 rapes of Lubna Masih and Kiran Nayyaz. According to the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) abductions and sexual violence against Christian and Hindu girls are increasing in Pakistan. These often also involve forced conversion and marriage. Most cases go unpunished.
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