Christian girls attacked in Pakistan

By January 14, 2009

Pakistan (MNN/ICC) — Two Christian girls have finally been rescued after two Muslim men kidnapped them two months ago, sexually assaulted them, forcibly converted them to Islam, and sold them to other men as sex slaves.

According to International Christian Concern, sisters Parisha, 18, and Sanam, 14, received a call in November 2008 from their neighbor, Muhammad Irfan, offering them training in cosmetology and jobs in his beauty salon. Parvisha, the oldest of seven children, convinced her father, Pastor Sharif Alam, to allow her to take the opportunity so that she could help support their struggling family. Irfan told the girls that he would come to pick them up since they didn't know where his shop was.

On November 12, Irfan picked up the girls with the help of another man, Muhammad Mehbood, drove them 20 minutes away from home and stopped to get drinks. The girls' drink were heavily drugged, and when the sisters came to, they found themselves locked in a small hotel room almost 500 miles away from their home in Gujranwala. At gunpoint, the girls were told that if they tried to escape or made any noise, they and all their family would be killed. During the night, each man sexually assaulted both girls.

Irfan and Mehboob then took the sisters to a local law office. They met with two lawyers, Nayer Zia-Ul-Din and Kokab Sahab-Ul-Din, and told them that both girls had embraced Islam and wished to stay in a government-run shelter home for women. The lawyers asked the girls to sign a blank sheet. Irfan told the girls that the lawyer would present them in the court tomorrow and then they would be free to go. Irfan and Mehboob then left, leaving the girls with the two lawyers.

The lawyers told Parvisha and Sanam that since they had no place to spend the night, they could come with them to stay with their family. They took the girls to their apartment, but there were no other family members present. When the girls asked about it, they were told that everyone was attending a family function and would be back before midnight. The girls were shown to a room in which to sleep.

They lawyers waiting until both girls fell asleep and then dragged Parvisha into another room where she was sexually assaulted. Sanam woke up when she heard someone crying and yelling for help. She ran out of the room and saw both lawyers torturing her sister.

While Sanam was looking for a weapon to defend her sister, she saw a cell phone lying on the table and called the police. Within a short time the police arrived and arrested Kokab Sahab-Ul-Din.

Parvisha was immediately take to the hospital. Sanam called her father from the police station, informing him of the situation. Pastor Sharif Alam rushed to Karchi to bring his daughters back home.

Pastor Alam then contacted a Christian legal group called CLAAS for help. On December 31, the CLAAS team visited Pastor Alam and his family to ascertain what had happened. While they were talking to the victims and their family, a large crowd of about 35 people gathered outside the house. They chanted for the pastor to hand the newly "converted" girls over to the custody of local Muslim authorities.

The crowd quickly became hostile and started throwing bricks and stones at Pastor Alam's house. When Pastor Alam and a representative of CLAAS went out to talk to the crowd, someone shot at them but hit a bystander.

Immediately, Pastor Alam called the local police, but not before the mob had seized Pastor Alam's son Sheraz and severely beat him. The police arrived as the angry mob was trying to break into Pastor Alam's house. Police dispersed the crowd, arresting three people responsible for the attack.

Since then, Pastor Alam has reported that his son in-law, Stian Akram Khokhar, has been missing. He believes that Irfan and Meboob are responsible and are threatening him to back off the case.

On January 2, both girls gave official statements to the local Magistrate. They stated that they were abducted from their home, raped and forced to convert to Islam, and that they want to live and die as Christians and at no cost will leave their family.

Please pray for Parvisha and Sanam and the family. Pray that God would strengthen their faith and heal their wounds. Pray that those responsible for these heinous crimes would be caught and punished appropriately.

Christians in Pakistan are often targeted not only for their faith, but because they live in poverty and have little means to defend themselves. Please call the Pakistani embassy in your country and ask them to work harder to protect the rights of religious minorities.

Here's where you can contact the embassies:
USA: (202) 243-6500, info@embassyofpakistanusa.org
Canada (613) 238-7881, parepottawa@rogers.com
UK: 0870-005-6967, hoc@phclondon.org

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