01/04/2021, 10.57
PAKISTAN
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Sheikhupura, 12-year-old Christian gang raped. Family demands justice

by Shafique Khokhar

The parents, supported by Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), filed a complaint. The police delay the investigation and try to silence family members. One of the three assailants, who fled after the rape, has been identified. The father: "Marked with shame", the behaviour of neighbours "changed radically". The young Komal will no longer be able to "live a normal life".

 

Sheikhupura (AsiaNews) - Activists, civil society and human rights movements, including Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), have condemn the rape of the 12-year-old Christian Komal Gulzar, during an attempted kidnapping in the district of Sheikhupura, in Punjab. The story dates back to last December 28, but the complete picture has only just emerged in all its dramatic brutality.

Thanks to the intervention of HRFP activists, the family reported the crime to the police, following the complaint presented by Komal's uncle, Youhana Masih. However, police did not initiate any investigation and, a week after the events, no arrests have been carried out so far; on the contrary, the pressures of the police to silence the reports of family members are constantly increasing.

AsiaNews interviewed the girl's parents, her father Gulzar Masih and mother Nasreen Gulzar, still shaken by the brutal violence suffered by their daughter but determined to seek justice.

The family travelled on December 28 to attend the wedding of Youhana Masih's daughter in the village of Kukar Gil. On the way, three men started following them; around 7 pm, when they had already reached their destination, they attacked them with a gun.

The particulars of one of the three are known, while the other two have not yet been identified. The attackers tied family members to the side of the road with laces, dragging the young Komal to a nearby field. The men repeatedly abused the girl, who screamed in despair trying - in vain - to escape. In the meantime, her parents managed to free themselves and, following the screams, they came to the rescue of their daughter while the rapists had already fled.

From the moment of the violence, Gulzar Masih says, "our family is no longer free to live" in the village and in the house of origin in a dignified way. “We feel marked by shame - he continues - because people's behaviour towards us has radically changed. The rules governing life here will no longer allow Komal to live a normal life”.

In addition to the physical and psychological injuries suffered, there is also the social stigma in spite of the violence suffered. And the girl, the father warns, lives "under the constant threat of being kidnapped a second time" and at the memory of the rape she "begins screaming again".

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, underlines the continuing increase in sexual violence, kidnapping and forced conversions against young Christian girls. Most of them still minors like Komal Gulzar. Once kidnapped, they are immediately converted to Islam as happened to Arzoo Raja, amid the complicity of a general indifference - if not connivance – of the institutions, the police and complacent (Muslim) religious leaders who officiate the marriages.

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