Lahore: October 11, 2019. (PCP) A Christian teenage girl gang raped by 5 men, has been moved, along with her whole family, to a safe house. Maria Jalal who was only 15 when she was continually and brutally raped over a 24-hour period in June 2019 after she opened the door to a debt collector, has now been moved to safety, courtesy of British Asian Christian Association. Any attack of this nature is horrifying but the fact that Maria Jalal was kidnapped after having first paid the regular loan repayment on behalf of her parents is a sickening new twist. Previous cases have generally involved the unjustifiable rape of Christian women when a payment has not been made.
The family have been subject to offers of bribery and daily pressure including threats of death if they do not drop the case by friends and families of the culprits. For the safety of Maria and her family they have since been moved by the British Asian Christian Association (BACA) to a secure location and with God’s help are now safe.
Jalal Masih, Maria’s father expressed his desire for justice and felt his family were at risk at their previous accommodation. He said: "We have been unable to continue with our lives since the incident.
Every day we have received threats by phone or in person.
"Sometimes people push us in the streets and warn us to drop the case, other times they shout from far off - letters have been posted through our door warning us of the consequences of pursuing justice.
"However we trust in our Lord and seek justice not as revenge but to protect the many young Christian girls in our community."
To help the family in their desire for justice BACA have stepped in to provide all fees for a solicitor who will lead their campaign through the Pakistani court system.
The families’ legal representative, Naseeb Masih, appointed by BACA, said: "There is a strong case against the accused and already we have blocked the application for bail made by the culprits - fearing they'd abscond.
"No further attempt to gain bail has thus far been made by the guilty party.
"Maria gave a clear description of her attack during a detailed interview before a magistrate, however the investigating police officer failed to submit this to the court.
"The police only submitted the contents of an initial interview at Sheikhupura Police station giving no reason for omitting pertinent information.
"We have asked the court to press the investigating officer to review their investigation to include this omitted evidence and I have submitted an action to the District Superintendent of Police to investigate the exhibited negligence of the investing officer.
"We believe once this evidence is brought before the court, combined with a whole raft of supplementary evidence a strong case will be in place for a conviction."
Maria has told BPCA that she is excited to be in her new home away from the threats. In particular she is happy that she will be able to continue her studies and vocational training. Maria continues to receive daily spiritual counselling from BACA representative, Mehwish Bhatti.
Mehwish Bhatti, said: "Maria is a remarkable young woman who has shown great strength in recovering form her ordeal.
"She is getting on with her life and has committed herself to a programme of learning in beauty care which she hopes will eventually lead to her own business.
"Her pursuit for justice is based on a desire to be free from her rapist and to ensure he never attempts to take her from her liberty again, moreover she want to protect other girls from a similar fate.
"Her resilience and faith in God is a testament to us all."
Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the BPCA, said: "More must be done to protect young Christian women and girls from the clutches of potential rapists who use Islamic marriage as a guise for their sadistic actions.
"Mosques in Pakistan must be condemned and punished for permitting sham marriages.
"Imams should be prosecuted when it is discovered that an illegal marriage is conducted by them.
"The laws exist - now the authorities must enforce them to protect vulnerable females."
Maria’s family would like to thank BACA and their donors for their continued support in organising and financing the families’ legal team and safe house.