06/26/2023, 17.41
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Sahiwal court imposes life sentence in connection with the rape of a Christian girl

by Shafique Khokhar

The victim was just eight years old when she was beaten and raped by a neighbour. Human rights activists hope this decision “sends a strong message against child abuse” in Pakistan.

Sahiwal (AsiaNews) – In an historic decision, a court in Sahiwal sentenced Muhammad Boota to life imprisonment after he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Liza, an eight-year-old Christian girl.

The violent attack, which took place on 2 September 2021, shocked the community, raising concerns about children’s safety and protection in Pakistan.

After she was brutally beaten and raped by a Muslim man from her neighbourhood, the victim was rushed to the DHQ hospital in Sahiwal, where she was placed in intensive care.

Preliminary medical reports confirmed the heinous nature of the attack, leaving no doubt about who was responsible.

After his arrest in another city where he had tried to escape, Muhammad Boota was charged under Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (Punishment for rape). Now, given irrefutable evidence, he was handed down a life imprisonment.

Joseph Jansen, a human rights activist who has supported the family involved in this case since the start, praised the court's decision.

“This decision sends a strong message against child abuse," he explained, noting however that this verdict involves a particularly odious case but one that is far too common as many girls and young women from minority groups are abducted for the purpose of forced marriage.

Voice for Justice coordinator Ashiknaz Khokhar is worried about the girl’s future. Traumatised by the incident, she is currently under treatment by psychologists and doctors to help the healing process.

For women's rights advocate Nadia Stephen, human rights violations in Pakistan need to be urgently addressed, especially in cases of child rape, forced religious conversions, and blasphemy.

To this end, Stephen urges activists to join their voices in order to raise awareness, condemn these acts, and promote a healthy society and human rights in Pakistan.

Photo: Flickr/lukexmartin

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