ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- A young Pakistani Christian was reportedly in hiding with her husband and two young daughters Saturday, June 24, after being attacked and raped for changing her faith-- amid signs that militants increasingly use rape as a weapon against Christian converts in Pakistan and neighboring India.
Christian women in Pakistan and their churches have often been attacked by Muslim militants, investigators say. Via BBC News
24-year old Sehar Muhammad Shafi told reporters she and her family fled their home city of Karachi and is on the run for Muslim militants. "My husband is keen to get a marketing job, but I don’t want him to do something that open where he will be known," Christian news agency Compass Direct quoted her as saying.
Although returning to Islam would seemingly solve many of Shafi’s problems, the Christian woman reportedly said that is not an option for her. “It is not a joke to change religions,” she reportedly said. "We’ve fallen in love with Jesus, so how could we betray Him?"
With help from the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, a Christian advocacy and aid group, the Christian couple relocated to another city. But as long as Shafi and her family remain in Pakistan, they must hide the truth of Shafi’s conversion, Christians said.
Shafi was born the fourth child of a Muslim proselytizer in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi. Her family belonged to Ahle Sunnat wa-al Jimmat, a non-violent Muslim group that focused on converting non-Muslims.
She also tried to convert her boyfriend, a Christian named Naveed Paul, who invited her to church. Four years later, Shafi decided to become a Christian, and a local pastor secretly baptized her. “I had shared Islam with [Paul] and wanted to convert him, but instead I realized that my life was empty without Jesus,” Shafi said.
Shafi’s family was not aware of her conversion, but sometimes allegedly beat her when they found her singing Psalms to herself. Once they ripped up a Bible they discovered her reading, Compass Direct reported.
In January 2004, Shafi and Paul were secretly married and broke all ties with Shafi’s Muslim family. After the birth of their daughter, Angela Rose, in January 2005, Shafi contacted her parents and told them that she had married a Christian man.
RAPED AT GUNPOINT
A month later, a man allegedly attacked her home and raped her at gunpoint while her husband was away. Earlier a Muslim mob attacked the house. Since the rape incident in Fabruary 2005, the couple has been on the run, even hiding in a monetary for eight months, where they were eventually forced to leave as well.
News of the rape comes less than a month after two Christian women in neighboring India, of which one was seven months pregnant, claimed to have been "gang-raped" May 28, in Nadia a village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
A similar incident reportedly took place in Jamanya village in the neighboring state of Maharashtra last year when Hindu militant villagers attacked 11 Christian families, sexually assaulting the women, on May 16, 2005, when they refused to give up their faith. Local Christians and investigators have expressed concern that rape will be used as a "weapon of choice" by religious militants in India as well as Pakistan, to stop the spread of Christianity in the region. (With BosNewsLife Reports).