by Kaleem Dean
The family of a 16-year old Christian girl raped by her Muslim neighbor has given up hope for justice for their daughter’s brutal attack, despite the publicity the case has received.
The teenager, Sonia Nasar, 16, was walking home after choir practice at her church. In order to get to her house, she is forced to walk past her Muslim neighbor’s house.
As she walked past the neighbor’s house, 23-year old Mohammed Iqrar grabbed her and violently pulled her into the house.
Quickly tying Nasar’s mouth with a cloth tostifle her screams, he took her into an inner room and brutally raped her. Even though the windows were shut and her mouth was tied, Nasar continued to try to cry for help.
Her father, next door, heard her feeble voice and rushed to Iqrar’s house where he found his daughter in critical condition and no trace of Iqrar. After rushing his daughter to the hospital, Nasar’s father went to the police station.
Because of the medical report from the hospital, the police were forced to register the complaint. However, because Iqrar is said to be well connected with the ruling Muslim League Party, local political leaders are pressuring police not to take any action.
As one local Muslim leader said, “It is a normal issue and can be sorted out locally by elders of the area.”
To date, the police have not started any legal proceedings against Iqrar, and, of course, he has not been found. Instead, police have been busy fabricating evidence such as circulating a story that Nasar was having an affair with Iqrar.
This tactic is a common phenomenon in Pakistan, where police departments do not operate independently but are in collusion with local, provincial and federal Muslim political leaders.
When minorities are the victims of crimes, cases are handled differently, with the end result usually to their detriment.
In the case of Nasar, Christian leader Shunila Ruth, a member of Provincial Assembly from the opposition political party (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, headed by Imran Khan, a cricketer turned politician) organised a protest in front of the Lahore press club to rally for justice for Sonia Nasar.
Yet, her father conceded that he was not hopeful considering the system. “Iqrar’s family has close ties with the ruling party of the Punjab and the Federation,” he said.
And for his daughter, the damage that has been done cannot be reversed.
Kaleem Dean is human rights activist and journalist from Pakistan. He currently lives in the UK. He was the publisher of Christian Monitor in Pakistan, a leading Christian newspaper which covers minority issues. He presently writes for various Pakistani papers. Write to him at Kaleem.Dean@mail.com