Today our friends at International Christian Concern put out a press release concerning the kidnapping, rape, and forcible conversion of a 13-year old Christian girl after after a Muslim man in Pakistan decided that he wanted to marry her. It's not easy reading, but the world needs to know of the plight facing young women in Pakistan and other Islamic countries at the hands of those who see Christian girls as easy prey for such heinous violations.
The girl, whose name is Rida Ilyas, is a sixth-grade student living in a small Christian neighborhood in Faisalabad. On February 13, a Muslim man named Muhammad Shahid accosted her at gunpoint as she was leaving her school. He told her to be quiet or she would be killed, and forced her to convert to Islam. He wanted to marry her, and so for two days he raped her thinking that she would agree to the marriage to cover the shame of being raped, even though it is illegal in Pakistan for women to marry under the age of 16. He then released her on February 15.
Rida returned to her family and told them everything, and her family filed a criminal case against Shahid at the police station. Shahid responded by attempting to take custody of Rida until she was 16 and could legally marry him. Fortunately, Rida's family was able to gather support from their local Christian leaders and lobbied the police until they agreed to drop Shahid's claim on Rida. Rida's family is relieved, but has refused to send her back to school for fear that Shahid would try to kidnap her again.
Rida's mother told ICC, "Thank God my daughter came back. It's a miracle of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, I know some Christian girl's case who was kidnapped, sold to another man as a sex slave, and forced into Islam. After a year her dead body was delivered to her home. I am not interested any more to see the police station or doctor's medical report even though she was raped." Rida's mother is rightly cynical of receiving justice from the Pakistani authorities, who often ignore Christian complaints altogether.
This story calls attention to a growing trend in Muslim countries where Muslim men are given financial rewards for converting a Christian woman to Islam by forcibly marrying them.
Rida is not alone. In the past year, we have received five confirmed reports on Christian girls kidnapped and raped by Muslim men who were attempting to force them into Islam in Pakistan:
- Farzana Rashid, 14, was kidnapped by police on March 28, 2008 from her house in Lahore and was raped and charged with a false crime.
- Sumaira Rafiq Masih was raped by three influential landowners when she was working in the fields near Patoki, Punjab, on May 14, 2008.
- On June 4, 2008 a Muslim man named Ramzan kidnapped two Christian sisters from Chak 285-JB, a village in Toba Tek Singh, Punjab.
- Saba Younis, 13, and Anila Younis, 10, were kidnapped on June 26, 2008 by a Muslim man named Muhammad Arif Bajwa.
- In November 2008, Parvisha, 18, and Sanam, 14, told a local magistrate in Gujranwala about their abduction from their home, rape, and forcible conversion to Islam.