LAHORE, Pakistan (Christian Daily International–Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan refused to file charges in the case of a Christian mother who lost her unborn child in a Muslim co-worker’s attempt to rape her, sources said.
Rakhil Nadeem Masih was eight months pregnant when a co-worker at a brick kiln near Clarakabad village in Kasur District, Punjab Province, attacked her in her living quarters at the kiln on Nov. 6, said her husband, Nadeem Masih.
He found her bleeding as the co-worker kicked and beat her, but after Masih took her to a government hospital, a doctor who stated that the violence led to her baby’s death refused to sign the medical report due to the influence of the Muslim kiln owner, Masih said. The kiln owner also influenced police, he said.
Rights activist Napolean Qayyum told Christian Daily International/Morning Star News that the case was another example of how influential Muslims circumvent the law.
“The poor couple’s unborn child was murdered,” Qayyum said. “The medical report certifies that the woman was brutally tortured, which caused the baby’s death, yet the police are still refusing to register an FIR [First Information Report].”
Qayyum said he has filed a complaint with the office of the Punjab Inspector General of Police, “but there has been no progress on it.”
Masih said that his 25-year-old wife had stepped out of their living quarters at the kiln on Nov. 6 to dispose of some garbage when she noticed the co-worker, identified only as Chand, taking photos of her with his phone. Rakhil Nadeem rebuked Chand and returned to her quarters, but he followed her inside and attacked her, Masih said.
Chand beat her and attempted to rape her, the impoverished laborer said, adding that his three children witnessed the violence.
“Rakhil begged and pleaded Chand to leave her, repeatedly telling him to spare her and her unborn child, but he would not listen,” Masih told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “I was working at the kiln when I heard the screams of my wife and children. I ran towards my quarters, where I saw Chand punching and kicking Rakhil, who was lying on the floor profusely bleeding.”
He tried to seize Chand, but he broke free and ran outside, Masih said.
“My immediate concern was for Rakhil, who was in a very bad condition,” he said. “I took her to a nearby government hospital with help from some co-workers, where we were told that the baby had died due to the torturous attack.”
Doctors performed an emergency Cesarean section (C-section) on Rakhil Nadeem to remove the baby’s body, Masih said, in tears adding that it was then that he realized they would have been blessed with a second son.
His wife remained in the hospital for more than a week for treatment of internal injuries.
“The thought of filing a police complaint immediately did not cross my mind at that time, because all my attention was focused on Rakhil’s condition,” he said. “I had already lost my unborn son, and I couldn’t even think of seeing my three children losing their mother.”
After Rakhil Nadeem returned home, Masih and his father went to the police station to file a complaint against Chand.
“The police asked us to bring the medico-legal certificate from the hospital, which was required to file a First Information Report,” Masih said. “However, when we submitted the certificate, the police refused to register a case, saying that the certificate had not been signed by the concerned doctor.”
When he went back to the hospital, the doctor declined to sign the document, he said.
“I later came to know that both the police and the doctor have been influenced by the Muslim owner of the brick kiln, Chaudhry Abdul Rehman,” Masih said. “The accused, Chand, is a henchman of Rehman, and it is because of his influence that police are reluctant to file a case against Chand and arrest him.”
He added that Chand was notorious for harassing Christian female workers at the kiln, and that complaints against him went unheard because of his association with the Muslim owner.
Chand continues to work at the kiln, and he and his family members have threatened Masih, warning him to stop pursuing legal action, Masih said.
“The kiln owner is also pressuring me to reconcile with Chand and also offered me money, but I’ve resolved not to give up till I get justice for my wife and our murdered unborn child,” he said.
Sohail Habil, executive director of HARDS Pakistan, a Christian rights group, said they had decided to file a legal case against police for inaction against the suspect.
“Registration of an FIR is the right of every citizen of Pakistan, regardless of their social standing,” Habil told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “The police must ensure that the accused is booked for assaulting the poor woman and killing her unborn child.”
Cases of sexual violence against women and children are common at brick kilns in Pakistan. Christians make up less than 2 percent of Pakistan’s population, and those at the bottom of the economic scale face even greater persecution.
Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.
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