» 10/09/2012, 00.00
Faisalabad: 24-year old Christian abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry her abuser
Shumaila Bibi kidnapped by a 26 year old Muslim Muhammad Javed Iqbal on the way home. Subjected to sexual assault and forced to study the Koran. On a pretext she managed to escape and return to her family. Her captor denounced the girl's father for "kidnapping" her. Shumaila's future hangs in the balance.
(AsiaNews) - Seized at dawn, forced to endure sexual abuse and to marry the
young Muslim man who abducted her with the help of his family and convert to
is the dramatic story of Shumaila Bibi, a 24-year old Christian who worked in Nishatabad,
a suburb of Faisalabad (Punjab), in a textile company. The
episode dates back to September 24, and for days she was subjected to a daily
nightmare with her tormentor; on October 5, using a ruse, she managed to
her so-called "husband" denounced her flight and with his parents -
reversing the facts - reported her family for "kidnapping" her. The
police accepted his version of the facts and have opened an investigation claiming
that the girl converted and married "of her own free will." The
future of Sumaila is hanging by a thread and will depend on the decisions of
the justice of Pakistan, who on more than one occasion have failed to protect
the rights of religious minorities in the country.
6 in the morning of 24 September Shumaila Bibi, who worked in a textile
company, had just finished her shift and was about to return home. On
the way she ran into to the 26 year old Muslim Muhammad Javed Iqbal, who had
approached her family with the intention, over time, of establishing an
engagement (though "I refused and I have repeatedly discouraged it" the
young woman tells AsiaNews). Despite
all this, with the help of his mother, two brothers, some uncles and the threat
of a gun, Muhammad dragged the girl into a nearby vehicle.
the time, there was only the guard of Millat Textile Mills factory to witness
the scene. Threatened
by the abductors family he did not intervene. The
next day, Muhammad Javed Iqbal - along with 25 relatives - led Shumaila to a
lawyer, Muhammad Tanveer Aslam. In
his office, he forced her to sign a statement of intent, under which she
declared her marriage to the young Muslim and conversion to Islam.
days she was sexually abused, harassed and forced to study the Koran and the
precepts of Islam. During
one of these lessons she asked her Muslim teacher to be able to go home earlier
than the scheduled time. Free
to move, Shumaila escaped and returned to her parents' house. This,
however, infuriated the groom who immediately reported the girl's parents to
the police for ... "Kidnapping."
officials upheld his complaint because the young woman converted and consented
to the marriage "of her own free will" and without compulsion.
Catholic activists of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the
Catholic Church of Pakistan (NCJP) have taken up the defense of Mansha Masih, girl's
father, 68, who now risks prison for kidnapping. The lawyers have filed a
counter complaint and now seek justice, though on several occasions the will of
the majority and Islamic law have dominated in spite of the rule of law, to
decide on the matter. Her
future is hanging by a thread and there is a real fear she will be returned to
her torturers. Interviewed
by AsiaNews, Shumaila confirmed that she
wants to "live with my parents and practice the Christian faith." The
young Muslim helped her find a job and with this "subterfuge" introduced
himself into the family and tried to approach her. "But
I refused - she clarifies - several times and I invited to desist" from
his intent. "And
for that, he ruined my life."
Barkat, diocesan director of NCJP in Faisalabad, said that "we do our best
to provide aid and assistance to victims like Shumaila." The
priest invokes the "intervention" of the police to "ensure the
legality and freedom" of the community. "We
have to be careful - he warns - of the manipulation of religion in the name of
justice, and the state must guarantee religious freedom in the country."
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