11/08/2011, 00.00
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Abbotabad: police torture a pregnant Christian woman. Pregnancy at risk

by Jibran Khan
Salma Emmanuel, in the fifth month of pregnancy, has been hospitalized in critical condition. Her husband was accused of a theft committed in the house where the girl worked as a maid. Thieves have stolen as much as 100 grams of gold that was entrusted by Salma to her Muslim employer, for safekeeping until her brother’s wedding.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Accused of a theft she did not commit, the victim of violence and abuse at the hands of the police, 30 year old Christian Salma Emmanuel now risks loosing the child she is carrying. The maid has been hospitalized in a "critical" and her husband Masih Emmanuel, is being held by police at an undisclosed location. The incident has been condemned by the Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Mgr. Rufin Anthony, who denounces the "kidnapping, rape and torture" of the Christian maid, while the authorities continue to proclaim "equal rights".

Last week, Salma bought 100 grams of gold ornaments, ahead of her brother’s wedding in Rawalpindi. Not wanting to keep the valuables at home, she entrusted them to the safekeeping of Ghazal Riaz until the wedding. On November 5, Riaz phoned Salma to say there had been a robbery at her home. The robbers had taken about 900 thousand rupees (just over 10 dollars) and 300 grams of gold, including the jewellery belonging to the Christian maid.

The couple immediately went to the Muslim lady’s home who, meanwhile, had alerted the police, finding a team of police dogs on their arrival. In the home there was also Riaz's brother Jawad and an army colonel. The animals turned on Emmanuel Masih, though it was his first time in the house. Colonel Jawad began to pressure the police to arrest Emmanuel, the agents transferred him to the local station and since then his whereabouts are unknown.

The next day, November 6, his wife was also summoned to the barracks. The agents threatened, physically abused and psychologically tortured her, saying that they would force her to have an abortion and she would never see her husband again. The police, under pressure from the Riaz family, intended to extort a confession of a crime that the Christian couple did not commit. "I was tortured in a brutal fashion - Salma Emmanuel confesses in tears - and when I was close to losing consciousness, I was sent home." Now she has been admitted to a hospital, unaware of the fate of her husband, and in real danger of losing the baby of five months in her womb.

The Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi Mgr. Rufin Anthony speaks of "sad fact" because "for the umpteenth time people in power have used their influence to bully the weak and abuse the law." The prelate adds that "nearly taken an innocent life" and now confirms the practice of daily "abductions, rapes and torture" against the religious minority, while the authorities continue to insist on "equal rights".

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