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By BosNewsLife Asia Service with BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos

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Christian women and girls have been abused in several parts of Pakistan, rights groups claim.



LAHORE, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- A Pakistani court on Friday condemned police for the way they investigated the rape of a Christian girl and rejected the main Muslim suspect's request to be released on bail, a leading attorney told BosNewsLife.

The Lahore High Court also "scolded the chief police investigator for not mentioning the second suspect. He was not prosecuted, perhaps because of corruption or pressure from local powers," said attorney Sardar Mushtaq Gill.

Another court also questioned police pressure on the family of 15-year-old Fouzia Bibi, who was raped January 25 by two armed Muslim men, Gill said. The Judicial Magistrate Feroz Wala Court in Sheikhupura District therefore ordered the release of her father's cousin Alam Ashiq, a Christian, who was "arrested on [false] charges filed against [other] unknown persons six months ago," Gill added.

"Police told the girl's father that Ashiq would be released if he compromised with the rapists and made sure they wouldn't be prosecuted," the attorney explained.

Gill, director of advocacy group Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), said he was hopeful that the suspects would be punished.

GIRL ABDUCTED

The rape allegedly happened after the girl was abducted by two Muslim men while bringing milk to the family's landlord in Roday village of Kasur district.

Suspects Sher Muhammad and Shabir, who were armed with pistols, "raped and tortured" her in a room, Gill said. "No one could hear the cries of the minor girl as she was raped and left unconscious," added Gill, who defends the victim and her family.

In general, BosNewsLife publishes names of victims of abuse and suspects only if they are identified publicly.

The trial, which resumes next month, has underscored wider concerns about the abuse of Christian women and girls in Pakistan, who are often forced to marry with Muslims and convert to Islam, according to rights activists.

Police have often been accused of complicity by refusing to properly investigate cases involving influential Muslims. Friday's Lahore High Court statements suggested that judges share those concerns in this heavily Islamic nation, Gill said. He had urged supporters to pray for the case.

(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004). 

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