London: A Christian girl, Anika Shehzad, 18, from Ferozwala district Shakhupura, who was working as a domestic servant was beaten after refusing to convert to Islam, and accused of theft.
Anika comes from a poor family, and to support her family she accepted a job for Rs. 5000, around $30 a month, as a live in domestic servant. The job was suggested to her by her neighbour.
After a few days Anika was asked to convert to Islam, but she refused but when pressure mounted and became unbearable, she decided to leave the job and informed the family about her decision.
This infuriated the family members and they started beating her. At last one her employer took her to her parents’ house in Ferozwala, and when they saw their daughter’s condition, they asked the employer what had happened.
She told them she Anika had been beaten because she has stolen their money.
The family called on the local pastor to help them to deal with the situation, and they took Anika for medical treatment.
When the parents raised objections and asked questions of the employer to save her skin, the family accused Anika’s father of stealing Rs. 50,000 and gold as well. But according to the family none of them ever visited Anika where she was working.
The family has contacted the local MP Tariq Masih Gill and asked him to get them justice for their daughter, who they believe is innocent and was only tortured because she refused to convert to Islam.
Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK said that although the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 was passed by the Lahore High Court last January, this atrocious practise still continues in Pakistan.
He added: “Christians in Pakistan are illiterate and poor, and many poor families are forced to take risks such as sending their young daughters to rich Muslim families to work as live in domestic servants for a little money. These young girls are often sexually harassed, tortured and sometimes are asked to convert to Islam.
“Many times such cases are reported in the mainstream media, like the gruesome torture of 10-year-old housemaid Tayyaba by an additional district and sessions judge, and his wife, in the capital Islamabad which made headlines in 2016.
“Several girls have even been killed, like Shazia Masih, 12. And several cases are taken to the courts but hardly any family has got justice and the practise still continues because perpetrators are always influential and rich, and sometimes victims are pressurised to withdraw their cases and some victims are compensated with money.”