by Jeremy Reynalds
A 12-year-old Christian girl was reportedly abducted and gang raped by 16 Muslim men in Pakistan.
The alleged offence occurred at Rawlpindi, bordering Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad.
According to a news release from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), Sara Tabasum escaped two weeks later while she was being transported to a new location. APMA reported Tabasum managed to jump out of the vehicle and escape while it was on a busy road. Although the youngster was pursued, she still managed to reach her family.
In the last week of June, APMA reported, according to Tabasum and her family members, Perveen Bibi, a Muslim woman and her husband Babar, rented an apartment next to Tabasum's house. Both families shared a single bathroom and main entrance door, APMA said.
It soon became evident to Tabasum's family, APMA reported, by the amount of strangers coming and going that their new neighbors owned a brothel.
Tabasum's mother and other neighbors complained to the owner of the apartment complex about the activities reportedly being carried on by their new neighbors. As a result, APMA reported, Bibi and her husband were ordered to immediately vacate the apartment. When Bibi found out that Tabasum's mother had complained, she warned her that here would be consequences for her actions.
Bibi and her husband, APMA reported, moved their business to another area of the city.
On Sept. 5, APMA stated, Tabasum went out late one night to buy some loaves of bread. She was reportedly abducted by her former neighbors and two other men. According to APMA, "They put a piece of cloth soaked in some intoxicant on her mouth, after which she fainted."
When Tabasum regained consciousness she found herself in Bibi's house, where three men reportedly including Babar Bibi, raped her.
Tabasum was reportedly told that by Perveen Bibi that she could be "saved" if she embraced Islam and married one of Perveen's Muslim brothers.
According to APMA, "On refusing, Sara was beaten badly during captivity and shifted to another house ... where five persons raped her. She was repeatedly asked by Perveen and other men to embrace Islam and recite (the) Islamic creed to save herself from the misery. Perveen's husband Babar even told her that they (had) killed her brother Suleman, and her mother (had) also embraced Islam. (With that in mind), it would be better for her to become (a) Muslim now, otherwise she could be killed or made (a) â€~prostitute.'"
Tabasum refused to renounce her faith and embrace Islam, APMA reported. She was subsequently taken to another house, where she was reportedly assaulted by seven people.
Finally on Sept. 20, APMA reported a deal was made to sell Tabasum to a gang, and it was at this point while being transported to another location that she jumped out of the vehicle and escaped.
Tabasum's mother, meanwhile, had been searching everywhere for her daughter. As a result, when she arrived home her mother was not there.
According to APMA, "Sara was in (a) pathetic and appalling state. Her brother Suleman was shocked to see her in this condition. He arranged for primary medical aid and inquired (about her welfare). She remained in shock and constantly kept crying. After two days when her mother returned home, she narrated the entire incident. Her mother went to the police station to register a case against the perpetrators. Police asked for (a) medical examination and took Sara to the hospital, and later ... police registered a case against (the alleged) culprits."
APMA stated that following the report of the alleged assault to the police, Tabasum's family has been threatened and while the police are doing their best to find those responsible for the assault, the "real culprits are not arrested yet as Perveen and Babar run a brothel business and are very influential."
Tabasum's mother has asked for prayer, saying in an APMA news release, "I will knock (on) every door to get justice for my beloved daughter."
APMA strongly condemned the reported abduction, saying in a news release, "It is a horrific, brutal and shameful act, which should be condemned at all levels as it is the insult of humanity itself. The incidents of rape, kidnaping, torture, and gang rape are increasing at an alarming rate, and the victimized women are begging for justice and protection to save their dignity and honor. The official failure to condemn or punish rape is encouraging the perpetrators to continue to commit such heinous crimes."
APMA reported that the organization has demanded the Prime Minister of Pakistan take immediate action in this case, including the issuance of a public statement to condemn the incident. APMA said it has also asked the government authorities to visit the alleged victim's family.
According to the World Evangelical Alliance (www.worldevangelical.org/persecute/persec_pakistan_ii_28oct03.html), "APMA is a coalition representing Pakistan's non-Muslim religious minorities (Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Balmeek, Bheel, Maingwal, Zoarastrian, Bahai and Kelash communities). Using advocacy and lobbying, APMA "raise(s) minorities' issues and concerns with the government authorities, parliamentarians, human rights organizations and media."
APMA, the World Evangelical Alliance statement continued, is assisting many victims of "discriminatory laws and blasphemy laws, and also supporting and protecting victims of terrorist attacks of Islamic militants especially since 11 Sept. 2001 ... APMA is struggling to protect and ensure religious freedom in Pakistan."
According to International Christian Concern (www.persecution.org/Countries/pakistan.html), 97.6% of Pakistan's people are Muslims. Hindus comprise 1.5% and Christians 1.7%. 70% of the Christian population is in the poorest segment of society. The growth of the Christian church is calculated at 3.9%.
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