04/21/2022, 13.01
PAKISTAN
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Man who abducted a Christian girl in Faisalabad gets bail

by Shafique Khokhar

In February, Muhammad Sharif tried to kidnap seven-year-old Jessica Pervaiz. His trial is not over yet. For Human Rights Focus Pakistan, “This is the ideal time for new legislation in favour of minorities”.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A man who attempted to kidnap and rape a seven-year-old Christian girl was granted bail at the beginning of this month.

On 7 February, Jessica Pervaiz and her parents had become separated during the funeral of a relative when Muhammad Sharif tried to sexually abuse the child.

Upon hearing the cries of her daughter, the father intervened and called police; the latter filed a First Information Report (FIR) on the same day.

The next day Sharif was arrested and admitted he wanted to kidnap the girl. However, the case took a different twist after Pervaiz was told to drop the charges; otherwise, he and his family would suffer consequences.

At that point, the father turned to Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), an organisation that, among other things, provides providing legal aid to families of religious minorities who are facing legal cases.

Muhammad Sharif was taken to the Faisalabad District Prison in early March, but was granted bail on 8 April. The court said that further investigation was needed.

Meanwhile, the Pervaiz family, which has attended court proceedings, is getting death threats.

HRFP president Naveed Walter told AsiaNews that half of the girls from religious minorities who are kidnapped are aged 7 and 15.

“The new government should take immediate action on issues involving kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages,” Walter said.

The previous government, led by Imran Khan, rejected a bill that would have banned forced conversions due to the opposition from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, which defined the draft law as “un-Islamic”.

For the activist, “This is the ideal time for new legislation in favour of minorities given that both of the country's main parties are in coalition and in the past have claimed to be in favour of protection for minorities.”

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