07/05/2019, 17.17
PAKISTAN
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Underage Christian girl raped by politician in Faisalabad

by Shafique Khokhar

Saima, 15, worked as a maid at the home of Tahir Jameel. In the latest attempt at abuse, she was beaten and had her hair cut. The politician put pressure on her family to drop their complaint, but the young woman wants to go ahead with the case.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A 15-year-old Christian maid was raped and tortured by a politician in Faisalabad, Pakistan.

The victim, Saima, is the daughter of Riaz Masih, a day labourer. She told her family that she was the victim of sexual violence by Tahir Jameel, an influential local politician. She worked for him for six months, the last two marred by abuses.

After a report was filed with police, the politician patched things up with the girl’s family; however, Saima refused to go along, and asked the court to go ahead with the investigations.

The story of the Christian girl became public in recent days, after the latest incident of abuse on the part of the politician and his two sons. When Saima was discovered hiding in a bathroom, the politician’s wife beat her badly and cut her hair.

After she was able to get home, she told her parents that she had been sexually abused for months. The parents went to the police station in Batala Colony to file a complaint, but were refused. They tried again on 28 June, successfully this time, after the family staged a protest outside the police station that sparked some media interest.

The politician was indicted for violating the Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act 2004-34, but no action was taken against him or his family. Instead, the accused tried to blame Saima claiming that she had stolen jewelry and money, and then invented the story of rape when she was caught.

After filing a complaint, the girl was moved to Dar-ul-Uloom, a Government’s Women Protection Centre.

A session judge’s court in Faisalabad heard the parties last Tuesday. The victim’s father asked the judge to drop the s because “a reconciliation deal” had been reached with the influential politician.

Saima, however, said no, complaining that she had been raped several times and pleaded with the judge to continue with the investigation. She also asked the judge to allow her to remain in the safe house, instead of going back to her family.

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), condemned the violence, rape and threats against the Christian girl and her family, noting that Saima’s case is not an isolated one, but is part of a trend in which girls and young women from minority religious communities are abducted, forcibly converted or forced into prostitution.

In fact, this kind of incident has become “routine,” he noted. For this reason, his organisation is campaigning for domestic workers to be registered with the Labour Department. The goal is to ensure that girls are not forced to work even if they are accompanied by their mothers to their place of employment.

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