Page 1, 30th May 2003

30th May 2003
Page 1
Page 1, 30th May 2003 — Pakistani Christian girls raped and tortured in backlash over Iraq war

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Pakistani Christian girls raped and tortured in backlash over Iraq war


CHRISTIAN girls in Pakistan have been attacked by Muslim extremists in vicious retribution for the Gulf war.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a Christian human rights group, said one nine-year-old was beaten and sexually assaulted by her Muslim employers whenever footage from the conflict was shown on television.

The girl was handcuffed and battered with a cricket bat. She was hung upside down from the ceiling and had spoonfuls of hot chillies forcibly poured down her mouth. When she cried out for help she was told to "call the Americans for help". The girl attempted to escape in April but was recaptured and beaten so severely she was close to death. Medical reports said she had suffered a fractured right arm, multiple burns and bruises and cuts to her face and body. The girl's family registered a complaint with the Faisal police, but to date no action has been taken.

In a separate incident, a 10-year-old girl was raped by a Muslim neighbour. The family also reported the incident.

Both families are said to have received threats from Muslim extremists to withdraw their complaints. The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, a human rights organisation based in Pakistan, has been helping the families. Stuart Windsor. national director of CSW, said Christian institutions had not been targeted in the wake of the war but the attacks appeared to have been motivated by religious and racial hatred. He said: "Christians in Pakistan are increasingly vulnerable to religiously motivated hate crimes and Christian girls and women seem to be specially targeted." The police's failure to act "only emboldens extremists to continue to victimise Christians and other nonMuslims", he said. CSW is calling on the government of Pakistan to "clearly and publicly" condemn the attacks and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Meanwhile, there is grow ing evidence that the British government is sending Christian asylum seekers back to Pakistan, where they face danger and possible death.

Earlier this month, The Catholic Herald reported the case of a 40-year-old Pakistani Christian, Naeem Pasha. Mr Pasha arrived in Britain with letters from his church explaining that his life would be endangered if he returned. The Home Office ordered him home and has since refused asylum to at least three other persecuted Christians.

Pakistan is a party to the United Nations' convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, as well as the convention on the rights of the child.

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