Two Christian women assaulted in Pakistan
Thirty-six-year-old Rukhsana Bibi and her sister-in-law, 34 year-old Asifa Bibi were assaulted in Chak 11 village, Sargodha District on the 27th of January 2024. The perpetrator, a Muslim landlord, still has not been prosecuted.
The two Christian women entered a Muslim man’s field to relieve themselves. Abdul Rauf tried to rape Rukhsana, and when she resisted, he struck her with the handle of his axe several times. Asifa tried to stop him, but she was also assaulted. The women’s cries for help and their courageous efforts to defend themselves finally convinced Rauf to escape.
Rukhsana’s husband went to the police to report the crime. He said that the officers were reluctant to file the claim. Thanks to Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, a local Christian politician’s efforts, they registered a First Information report. However, they made the charges less severe and, therefore, open for bail.
Chaudhry stated: “This criminal action should have invoked sections 377 [attempt to rape] and 511 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which are non-bailable. The accused has also influenced the medical-legal reports, which downplayed the injuries of the two women even though cuts on Rukhsana’s face and Asifa’s hand had to be stitched.”
Following a few meetings with Sargodha Superintendent of Police Investigation Farhan Aslam and a team from Lahore-based rights group Christians True Spirit, Silanwali police were instructed to include the more serious charges for attempted rape and assault.
Director of the organisation Christians True Spirit, Katherine Sapna, also urged the police to arrest Rauf: “He has so far managed to avoid arrest, but we hope that after the SP’s intervention, the local police will now stop aiding the accused and ensure justice and protection to the Christian family. Two or three Christian families live in each of the ten houses of Christians in the village, yet not one has a toilet. Given the problem facing these people, particularly this rape attempt, we have decided to immediately build latrines in at least four houses so that the Christian women and girls would not have to go outside in the fields.”