By BosNewsLife Asia Service with BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- An advocacy group is urging authorities to seriously investigate the gang rape by Muslims of a Christian married deaf-mute woman in Pakistan, after two suspects were acquitted in a similar case.
Sardar Mushtaq Gill, director of the Pakistan-based Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), told BosNewsLife that he met a close family member of the woman last month.
One suspect, publicly identified as Muhammad Umar, was detained but two others managed to escape following the "heartbreaking incident" on October 23 at the village of Bonga Ghanda Singh Wala Kasur in Punjab province, Gill said.
Christian women have been singled out for sexual abuse by violent Muslim gangs across Pakistan, a heavily Islamic nation, rights activists say.
News of the latest known attack came after two Muslim men who raped two Christian sisters in Pakistan last year were acquitted as Islamists reportedly pressured a key witness not to testify and a prosecutor failed to show up in court.
ABDUCTED AT GUNPOINT
Christians familiar with the case said the two teenaged girls had gone to a toilet in a field near their village of Jaranwala close to Faisalabad city on November 28, 2014 when the men abducted them at gunpoint.
One of the girls was reportedly beaten for protesting. The men, named as Muhammad Shahbaz and Muhammad Azeem, later took them to a house and allegedly raped them throughout the night, according to investigators.
The girls said they recognized the assailants, who were believed to be be between 25 and 30 years old, and from their area.
However a witness changed his statement after receiving a bribe, which led to the collapse of a hearing at Jaranwala Trial Court on October 10, said the girls' father in published remarks.
His name was not revealed amid security concerns.
The court on October 15 acquitted the suspects.
LEAD CONDEMNS AUTHORITIES
In general, BosNewsLife does not identify victims of sexual abuse unless they agree to publicly identify themselves. Suspects are identified if mentioned publicly.
Gill suggested he wasn't surprised about the perceived lack of support for victims by authorities. "In every one of such cases, police either failed to act or sided with the rapists," he said. "Sometimes witnesses are pressured to retract their given statements or political pressure is used to pressure a complainant to compromise," the activist added.
Gill said several Christian women and children in Pakistan "are being mauled in silence, and their stories never surfaced."
He noted that when activists speak on behalf of such victims, "they have to be victimised by the hands of extreme oppressive powers."
Gill, who has received death threats and survived attacks, said his group would continue to provide free legal assistance and advocacy to victims of sexual assaults who can not afford
to bear expenses and costs occurred to fight for justice. LEAD said it had asked Christians to support its activities.
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