ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christians in Pakistan seek justice for a Christian girl who escaped her kidnapper

Saturday, 12 December 2020 conversion   religious minorities   persecutions   violence   religious freedom   freedom of conscience   human rights  

Faisalabad (Agenzia Fides) - "We want justice for Sheeza Maqsood, a 16-year-old Christian from Faisalabad who was kidnapped, raped, tortured, converted to Islam and forced to marry one of the four men who raped her several times, before she could escape. Nobody listens to us, not even the police", complains Intizar Gill, President of "Aqleeti Tahafuz Pakistan", an organization based in Faisalabad to protect the rights of religious minorities.
Intizar Gill, who is helping the young woman's family, said: "The girl keeps repeating her sad story over and over again to police officers, and even in front of the judge in court, but no one is ready to hear the truth". Gill recounts the circumstances that have damaged the girl's credibility: "The statements made by Sheeza a few months ago in court, in which she said she freely chose to marry, were not true: she was traumatized and threatened, she feared for the safety of her family and repeated it in court".
Intizar Gill, who has also worked closely with former Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who was killed by terrorists in 2011, reports: "We must listen to Sheeza: now that she is out of the trauma and with her family, she is saying everything about her whole story and she also submitted a written application to the Central Police Office (CPO) in Faisalabad to seek justice and protection for herself and her family".
Sheeza Maqsood speaking to Agenzia Fides said: "I am sad because my application was rejected by the court. I kept telling them that I was kidnapped and raped by Talha Haider and three other friends for two days. Then I had to convert to Islam and was forced to marry Talha, one of my kidnappers".
She also says: "I have always been a Christian, I belong to a Christian family, they kidnapped me and violently changed my religion. I managed to escape and return to my parents, now I live happily with my family. I never denied my parents, my family, my faith. Now we are forced to hide because my kidnappers are constantly threatening to harm us".
Sheeza was abducted from her home on September 28 at 10 pm. She recalls this terrible incident and said: "There was a knock at the main gate and I went to open the door. My kidnapper Talha Haider was at the gate with three accomplices. When I opened the door, he pointed the gun to my head and told me not to scream and to follow them in silence, threatening to kill me and my family".
Sheeza continues: "They took me to an unknown place and raped me for two days, in which I only cried. On the third day they took me to an Islamic school where I was forced to convert to Islam". And she continues: Then they took me to a lawyer where an imam, Talha's mother and another lady were present who beat me. Out of fear, I said yes to the wedding and they forcibly took my fingerprints and put them on the marriage certificate".
Sheeza explains: "They always threatened to retaliate my loved ones. I was tortured in captivity for about 45 days. One day, it was November 20th, I had an opportunity to escape. I called my brother and told him where I was, I climbed over the wall and I managed to escape".
Today the young woman asks for "justice for my kidnapping, forced conversion and forced marriage" and demands protection for her family.
On December 10, Sheeza's father Maqsood Masih spoke publicly with tears in his eyes and also called for justice for his daughter and her family. He said: "We are completely helpless: even the court rejected our application, it is a huge injustice for me and my family. We ask the government and police officials for their mercy and that they try to find out the truth and ensure justice". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/12/2020)


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