In a horrifying incident, an 18-year-old Christian woman named Sunaiha Arif fell victim to a cruel deception and brutal assault by three Muslim men.
The perpetrators, posing as messengers of reconciliation, lured Sunaiha into a meeting with her brother-in-law, claiming he wished to discuss ways to mend her strained relationship with her husband. Little did she know, this was a sinister trap that would lead to a nightmarish ordeal.
Sunaiha faced domestic issues with her in-laws, prompting her to move back to her parents’ residence at Brick Kiln No.55, Bahmani Village on Raiwind Road about a month ago. On the 23rd of September, after a strenuous day of brick-making with her parents, Sunaiha received a message from her cousin, who lived nearby, asking for some cooked food. At around 8:00 pm, as she prepared to leave for her cousin’s home, her father, Saleem Masih (45 yrs), provided her with money, instructing her to purchase sugar and tea from a local shop on her way back.
On her way back home after delivering food to her cousin, a man named Muhammad Naeem (28 yrs), owner of a grocery shop known to the community, convinced Sunaiha to follow him to the shop where her brother-in-law was supposedly waiting.
Sunaiha recounted her encounter with Mr Naeem, stating, “When I was returning home after delivering food to my cousin, Muhammad Naeem called me and instructed me to meet with my brother-in-law, who wished to discuss reconciliation between me and my husband.”
Muhammad Naeem, the owner of a grocery shop near the brick kiln, persuaded Sunaiha to follow him, asserting that her father had no intention of sending her back to her in-laws. Instead, she was encouraged to engage in a conversation with her brother-in-law, who sought her well-being and had supposedly come to discuss ways for her to reunite with her husband.
Driven by desperation to find a way back to her husband, Sunaiha accompanied Muhammad Naeem to meet her brother-in-law at his shop. However, upon reaching the shop, she discovered no sign of her relative. Inquiring about his whereabouts, Muhammad Naeem made a phone call, presumably to his accomplices, providing information about Sunaiha’s presence and asked the person on the phone how long it would take to arrive, as if he was speaking with the brother-in-law.
Swiftly, two men named Haji (30 yrs) and Muhammad Zeeshan (28 yrs), residents of the same area, arrived on a motorbike. They promptly locked the shop from the inside after entering.Sunaiha recounted the horrifying details, stating, “They tied my mouth with a piece of cloth and bound my arms with a rope.” What followed was a harrowing experience of brutal gang rape that continued until the afternoon of the next day.
Her distraught parents, unaware of their daughter’s plight, tirelessly searched for her. After multiple failed attempts, they finally sought the assistance of the police, revealing the horrifying details of Sunaiha’s abduction and assault.
It was only when a concerned Muslim landowner discovered Sunaiha lying tied in the sugarcane field that her family learned of the unimaginable tragedy. Saleem Masih recounted the emotional moment, saying, “I could not believe my eyes. My innocent daughter was lying in the sugarcane field. I untied her, released her from the ropes, and brought her home, where she informed me about the incident.”
The family promptly informed the police and took Sunaiha to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Raiwind for a medical examination by Women Medical Officer Mariyam Qayyum. The medico-legal certificate confirmed that she had been raped and had sustained bruises on her body.
On the 3rd of October, the BACA team visited the family and prayed with them. Saleem Masih reported that the City Police Raiwind had registered an FIR against the culprits, but no arrests had been made despite multiple police raids. He also shared that he was facing threats from the culprits’ families for a compromise, and the brick kiln owner was pressuring him to accept. Undeterred, Saleem Masih is determined to fight a legal battle for justice for his daughter. Rape cases in Pakistan are tried in civil courts, but perpetrators can potentially secure their freedom from conviction by paying a compromise bribe. This practice is allowed under the notorious Qisas and Diyat laws (click here) in the country.
Working tirelessly alongside his wife, Martha Bibi (52 yrs), and three sons, Kashif (23 yrs), Mehroz (16 yrs), and Badil (14 yrs), Saleem Masih strives to provide for his family and repay a substantial loan of 1,000,000 Rs. (£2,857) to the brick kiln owner. They do not have the financial strength to win this legal battle on their own.
Mr Masih has asked BACA for support in assembling a legal team to bring the rapists to court. Additionally, he sought assistance in alleviating their slavery debt. This financial help is crucial for the family to relocate safely, as they’ve faced threats of violence and the re-rape of Sunaiha from the rapists’ and their associates. Sunaiha, in particular, is deeply traumatized by the ordeal. You can contribute to supporting this family and helping them break free from slavery by donating here. We rely on generosity and invite you to donate (here).
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association, expressed concern, stating, “It’s alarming that, despite the revelation in 2020 that there are 11 reported rape cases every day in Pakistan (click here), tangible efforts to reduce this figure seem lacking. In 2015, it was estimated that 700 Christian girls were kidnapped, raped, and forced into Islamic marriages annually by the Muslim NGO Movement of Solidarity and Peace. This figure is believed to have tripled, indicating that over 50% of reported rape victims are now Christian women. Despite the introduction of several new laws, the relative impunity for such crimes and the lack of resolve by Pakistan’s authorities have allowed these crimes to persist and proliferate.”