LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Christian relief workers rushed to a volatile district in Pakistan's Punjab province Saturday, February 9, after security forces and Muslim hardliners allegedly abused Christian women and raped at least one Christian girl.
"Yesterday some Muslims and some [undercover] police men raided Kaila Masih's house" in the town of Pattoki [where they] "beat and tortured Christian women Zareena Bibi,Hameedan Bibi and Sharifan Bibi," said the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), an advocacy and aid group.
It was the second such incident in Punjab's Kasur District within about two weeks, according to LEAD investigators. On January 25 a 15-year-old Christian girl, Fouzia Bibi, was raped by two influential Muslim men in the district's village of Roday, LEAD Chief Sardar Mushtaq Gill told BosNewsLife.
Gill said he met a local pastor and victims and helped to register a criminal case against the alleged attackers of the women, including "police officials and other Muslims."
LEAD also demands that the rape case be moved to more independent police in Pattoki amid concerns that authorities are reluctant to investigate the crime because of pressure from influential Muslims in the region.
Though police "arrested" one suspect, "he was not yet sent to jail", complained LEAD investigators.
Another alleged rapist "is free and making threats to Christians of the area," LEAD said, adding that both men should be jailed.
Local Pastor Saleem Gill said in published remarks that he wasn't surprised about the slow police investigation. "Our people are poor that's why they are treated like this," he reportedly said.
These are no isolated incidents.
Church groups say minority Christians have been targeted in several areas of Pakistan in attacks fueled by Islamic extremism.
LEAD said however that it would continue to work "with children,families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice".
"As followers of Jesus, we are motivated by God's grace and love to serve all people regardless of race,religion gender or ethnicity," the group added.
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