A three year old Christian child has been raped while attending a UNICEF sponsored school in Raiwind, Pakistan. Police are investigating the husband of Mrs Saleem the Principal of the school, for the alleged rape.
Video taken from public Facebook page of Saleem Iqbal: Punjab Minister for Human Rights Mr. Ijaz Alam Augustin confirms rape of child of 3 years at UNICEF funded school. In the video he confirms that attempts were being made by some of the compatriots of Muhammed Saleem to lay blasphemy charges on the family of Anna to thwart justice.
On 5th July 2021, Anna Chand had begun an educational program at ‘UNICEF School System’ (name given to a UNICEF funded home school), based at Kot Kala Sunder Road, Raiwind. Her father Chand Masih (23 yrs) works as a sweeper at a factory and her mother Roma (23 yrs) is unemployed meaning that their household was very deprived. When an offer of free education, school equipment and uniforms was brought to Roma’s attention by other housewives, she found it hard to refuse. Roma wanted her daughter to have the best start to her education.
Roma speaks with British Asian Christian Association
Roma explained, she said:
“There is not a single Christian school in the area so we are limited with options.
“I have always longed for Anna to get education so that she could escape the poverty we as a family face.
“Anna could not start a Government School until she reached the age of 4 years.
“I wanted Anna to get a head start with education at this free school and was hoping to move Anna to a proper school from next year.”
The school has been operating in the house of the Muhammad Saleem and has around 30 regular students. The School also operates as a madrasser (school of Islam).
On Saturday 24th July Anna Chand returned home at 11:30 am, half an hour earlier than usual. Normally her mother Roma would collect her from school but this time she was sent home despite her young age by the school principal because she had been complaining of a stomach ache. Roma gave Anna some Gestofill Syrup (a Pakistani over the counter medicine for stomache ailments [click here]) and she went to sleep. While Anna was asleep her mother found blood stains on her shalwar (trousers) but initially thought it may have been sacrificial blood from Muslim Eid-Ul-Azha rituals.
Roma explained, she said:
“I thought that as Ed-Ul-Azha had just passed recently and Anna may have caught these blood stains from somewhere in the school after the ritual slaying of a goat.
“Sacrifices like this occur throughout Muslim homes during Eid and I could not think of such brutality towards my daughter”
After sleeping for an hour (around 2pm), Anna woke up and again told her mother of the pain in her stomach.
At the same time Chand Masih (23 years) had just returned home after finishing the cleaning of the factory her works at. In the evenings he runs a street food cart and he began preparing the food for the stall. He checked in on his daughter and found her in real pain complaining about her stomach and prayed with her, before travelling to his regular location.
All night however, Anna complained about the pain and at around 9:30pm Roma concerned about her health called Chand Masih and demanded that he come home and take Anna to the hospital for a medical checkup. When Chand arrived home he found the blood stained clothes of Anna and asked his wife about them.
Anna’s bloodstained clothing.
Roma explained that the blood stains were present on her shalwar since she had returned from school and that she had thought it was blood from Eid sacrifices. Chand asked Anna to tell him what had happened and Anna told him that uncle (name given to elders and used by Anna for Muhammed Saleem) had beaten her.
Chand rushed to the house of his sister in the same street and asked her if her son Samson, Anna’s cousin, knew anything about the beating. Samson shared a very worrying account, he said:
“Teacher was not at home and Uncle sent us to a room in their upper story and asked us to read there.
“He kept Anna with him on the ground floor”
Fearing the worst, Chand took his daughter to Jinnah Hospital for a medical assessment and they confirmed that Anna had been raped.
They refused to treat Anna saying it is a police matter and we can not treat her until police have examined the case.
Chand Masih wary of going to police before getting a proper medical examination, took Anna to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ Hospital), Raiwind where she was given initial treatment and went through a medical checkup. The examination found a tear on her perineum (the area between anus and scrotum), though doctors found some evidence of rupture of her hymen (tissue over vagina) they have advised the parents to obtain clarity of this position from an expert because of the looming criminal case.
On 25th July, Chand Masih called the emergency police by dialling 15 (equivalent of 999) and demanded the arrest of Muhammad Saleem for sexual offences against a child. He also called Punjab Minister for Human Rights and Religious Affairs, MPA Ijaz Alam Augustin who has intervened and sought strict action by Raiwind Police. They immediately arrested Muhammed Saleem the same day and FIR No. 2224/21 has been registered against Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code:
376. Punishment of Rape
(1) Whoever commits rape shall be punished with death or imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than ten rears or more, than twenty-five years and shall also be liable to fine.
(2)When rape is committed by two or more persons in furtherance of common intention of all, each of such persons shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.”.
While at THQ Hosital an examination by doctors found a tear on Anna’a perineum (the area between anus and vagina), which seems to be a rip close to and probably extending from the vagina. Though the medical team at the hospital also found some evidence of a rupture of her hymen (tissue over vagina) they have advised the parents to obtain clarity of this position from Miah Munshi Hospital, Lahore. The hospital have informed the parents that an expert opinion is required because of the looming criminal case.
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, said:
“Young Anna has gone through a very brutal attack and at her young age will not have understood much about what has ahappened.
“She knows she has suffered great physical pain and knows it was wrong.
“Her parents now have to care for her and each other while going through a difficult legal proces.
“They are adamant they want to get the paedophile rapist Muhammed Saleem sent to prison to prevent him hurting others and to get justice for their daughter.
“Christian girls are seen as easy targets for paedophiles and rapists as they come from deprived, disempowered families and can quickly be accused of blasphemy to thwart justice.”
This latest account mirrors the story of young Saiba (2.5 yrs) who was raped by a paedophile in December 2016, after her 10 year old brother was sent on an errand by a local Muslim man (click here). The man was later convicted for child rape and imprisoned for 25 years , thank to BACA’s early intervention with a solicitor (click here)
If you have been moved by the plight of Anna and her family and want to help us get justice for them you can donate using several options found (here) . We have already begun counselling sessions for the family and have agreed to pay for their travel to and from court and have offered to provide a solicitor to help them with their impending legal battle.
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