The day after Palm Sunday, on the outskirts of the city of Sailkot in Pakistan, 7-year-old Sara Masih, the daughter of a poor Christian family, headed to a corner store a few blocks from her home. On her way out, a young man stopped her. At first, he offered her gifts to come with him, but then grabbed her and hustled her to an abandoned apartment building nearby. Three other men went in with him.
A neighbour, a Muslim woman, noticed the group entering the building and again as they left a few hours later – without Sara. She went over and found the child in an empty room, unresponsive, bloody, and with a broken leg. She found Sara’s parents, who took the girl to a hospital. She bled for days, and doctors confirmed that she had been repeatedly raped.
Her father, Iqbal Masih, and mother, Shogufa, were terrified of retribution if they reported the incident, but a few days later they allowed their minister, known as Pastor Peter, to ask local authorities to investigate. Local authorities did investigate, very aggressively, and some Muslim leaders denounced the crime at a public rally. Within a month, police had all four men in custody.
In the days leading up to the trial, different people threatened Iqbal on several occasions and, on the way into the courtroom, family members of the accused offered Iqbal the equivalent of $40,000 to drop the charges. On 26 May the accused were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
To get a conviction in such a case is ‘a miracle,’ according to Lisa Jones, executive director of Christian Freedom International, an organisation which tracks the persecution of Christians worldwide. Jones pointed out that Sharia law excuses all kinds of brutality against women and girls because it accepts polygamy and forced conversion.
But in this case, even though Sara is from a Christian family, the involvement of multiple men, her brutal treatment and abandonment, and her low status as the daughter of a very poor family may have aroused some community sympathy, Jones said.
‘Now, whether the rapists ever serve the sentence is another question,’ Jones added. She suspects their families will take the $40,000 offered as a bribe to Sara’s family and try to buy the men out of jail.
Sources: International Christian Concern, World Magazine
- Pray for Sara’s full spiritual and physical healing through the true Healer, our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to protect and provide for her family.
- Pray the sentence for these convicted men will be upheld to protect not just Sara and her family, but all women who are victims of abuse.
- Pray the Lord will use this case to change attitudes of Pakistani locals towards woman and young girls.