“I saw two of my daughters being raped in front of me,” an old lady from Essa Nagri told The News. “It is considered that Chooras have no integrity.” She says that around midnight, men from other areas start gathering in their neighbourhood. “They are usually drunk. They choose which home they will plunder.”
She adds that one night they stormed into her home and raped two of her girls, while she “was locked in another room hearing their cries for help”. “I am a widow without any financial prospects, but I did go to the MPA representing us. What good is he if he can’t do anything to protect us?” The fear to report these cases is such that at first, no one even admits that an incident of rape or torture has taken place.
Within the past three months, nine women have been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam. MPA Javed adds that the purpose is not to gain good deeds, but to sell them. A majority of the Christian girls converted are married, he says.
According to reports he received from different areas of the city, the abducted women are later sold to feudal lords in Sindh and Punjab. Citing a recent example, Javed says that in Essa Nagri, a 23-year-old married girl was forcibly remarried to a 60-year-old Muslim man, who was notorious for selling girls.
Javed said that the man was known to be pious, but had a side business of selling Christian girls. He says many people apart from him knew the truth. The only information that the family received was by a phone call through which they were informed by somebody that their girl is in Punjab.
He points out that there is a judgment by the Lahore High Court which clearly states that a “married Christian woman cannot be remarried to a Muslim even if converted,” but these cases do not even go to the police to be challenged in the high courts.
Brothel beside a church
Ayub Goth, near the Meteorological Department, is another area known for ethnic and religious discord. The Christians living in the area complain that a brothel was recently established right beside a Catholic church in the area.
In the evening women from outside are brought by “some people.” Residents say that these people have enough political clout to ensure that no one dares raise a finger.
Chaudhry, a former councillor of the area, says that the residents have grown tired of squabbling for space and now offer their prayers in a school right behind the church.
Munawar Baig, a resident of the area, says that if the same thing occurred in a Muslim dominated area, it would have been “treated differently”.
“We are not going anywhere,” says Abraham Masih, an 80-year-old resident of Ayub Goth. “We were born here and we’ll die here. I cannot preach with a gun, I can only pray for such people.”
“I have read the Bible as well as the Holy Quran and know for a fact that the religion does not use force on any one. It is not meant to make lives miserable for other people. If only those who cry about knowing the religion would understand that,” adds Javed.