Father of kidnapped girl murdered in Pakistan
Muslim assailants murdered the father of a kidnapped girl in revenge for bringing his daughter's captors to justice
The agony of Basharat Masih started last December, when a local shopkeeper and his co-worker kidnapped Basharat’s 12 year-old daughter. The assailants forcibly converted young Hoorab Masih to Islam and coerced her to marry one of the men. Eventually, the authorities found them and brought the case to court on 14 February. Hoorab’s captors stated that she had converted to Islam of her own free will and she no longer wanted to live with her widowed father. As a result, the court sent Hoorab to a women’s shelter. Even though her captors were arrested and one of them confessed to the fraudulent marriage, authorities released them on bail.
Basharat was a poor labourer whose wife had passed away, leaving him with four children. He did not have the funds to fight the case in court to have his daughter returned home. Thankfully, she was finally allowed to return to her family in late March. However, the family received numerous threats after the court case.
A group of assailants attacked Basharat when he was taking part in a community pigeon flying competition on 24 April. His sister and other frightened community members witnessed the brutal murder.
Naveed Walter, chairman of Human Rights Focus Pakistan believes that the slaughter was committed in revenge for Basharat’s part in bringing his daughter’s captors to justice: “Basharat Masih was killed because he was Hoorab’s father. We live in a society where a father who demands justice for his daughter is killed.”
The kidnapping and forcible conversion of young girls from religious minority groups is far too common in Pakistan. Christian women and girls are constantly at risk of sexual assault, abduction and forced conversion. Christian men are often forced to take lower-state jobs referred to as ‘chura’, a derogatory word meaning ‘filthy’.