Christian rape victim in Pakistan pressured to withdraw charges

Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, including Faisal Mosque.
Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, including Faisal Mosque. | (Fassifarooq, Creative Commons)

Police in Pakistan are pressuring a young Christian woman to withdraw charges against two Muslims who raped, blackmailed and tried to forcibly convert her to Islam, sources said.

The 26-year-old woman, a resident of Islamabad whose name is withheld as a rape victim, said Sub-Inspector Muhammad Mehboob was harassing and warning her to drop the charges against Raja Waleed and Shah Hussain, alias Badshah.  

Blackmailing her into silence with mobile phone video recordings of the sexual assaults, Waleed and Hussain raped her multiple times over the past four months, she said.

In September Hussain borrowed a large sum of money from the woman’s mother, and the following month he told the young woman to accompany him to the home in Rawalpindi of a friend who would give him the money so he could repay her, she said.

“When we reached the house, Hussain left me in a room on the pretext of making a phone call,” she told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News.

As soon as Hussain left, his friend Waleed entered the room brandishing an AK-47 rifle, she said.

“He fired a bullet on the wall to scare me and then sexually assaulted me, disregarding my cries for mercy,” she said. “I cannot express the horror I suffered in those moments as my mind and body went completely numb. After assaulting me, Waleed made videos of me with his cell phone and threatened that he would share them on social media if I reported the incident to the police and did not surrender to his demands.”

The nightmare was only beginning, she said, as Waleed continued to blackmail her with videos, compelling her to meet with him repeatedly.

“I was completely helpless and had no choice,” she said. “My father has passed away, and I did not want my widowed mother to suffer the pain of my harrowing fate. Waleed also started forcing me to meet with his friends, threatening to release the videos if I did not comply with his wishes.”

In November she found out that she was pregnant due to the repeated assaults, she said.

“When I told Waleed and Hussain about my condition, they forced me to convert to Islam on gunpoint,” she said. “When I resisted, Waleed attacked me with kicks and punches, resulting in a miscarriage.”

As the ordeal continued, she decided she had to share her plight with her mother.

“My mother broke down when she heard about my suffering, but she told me not to worry,” she said. “She then took me to the police station where I narrated my story, showed evidence of the blackmailing and filed a rape case against Waleed and Hussain. I also appealed to the police to recover the blackmail content from their phones.”

The charges were filed on Feb. 13, but instead of arresting the two suspects, police tipped them off, and they obtained pre-arrest bails, she said.

“Since that time, they have been threatening me and my mother to withdraw the case or face the consequences,” she said.

The victim said she registered another case against the two Muslims for threatening to kill her and her mother, but that police have taken no action.

“Instead of giving me justice, the police investigating officer, Mehboob, is pressuring and intimidating me to withdraw the case,” she said. “He has repeatedly said that since I’m a Christian, I don’t stand a chance against the powerful criminals.”

Mehboob hindered her medical examination, delaying it under various pretexts and threats, and is now blocking evaluation of her DNA samples, she said.

“This is sheer injustice for me and all other minority girls who have fallen victim to such predators,” she said. “I’ve resolved not to give up my pursuit for justice no matter what happens now, and I appeal to the Christian leadership for support in this legal battle.”

When Christian Daily International-Morning Star News asked Mehboob for comment, he denied favoring the suspects and threatening the victim.

“The police registered both cases filed by the victim and is extending all possible legal help to her,” he said. “The date of hearing of the accused for confirmation of their pre-arrest bail is due in this week, and we will try our best to get the bails cancelled.”

Christian political activist Shahzad Imran Sahotra said he and some Christian attorneys met with the victim’s family and assured them of their support.

“We met the Rawalpindi police chief along with the victim and informed him about his subordinates’ attitude towards the complainant,” Sahotra told Christian Daily International-Morning Star News. “The officer has now assigned a senior police official to investigate the case and conduct the victim’s medical examination.”

Sahotra, the only Christian in Pakistan who ran for a general seat in Islamabad in Feb. 8 general elections but lost, confirmed that the two suspects have considerable influence over local police.

“Waleed and Hussain are in the real estate business and have criminal backgrounds,” he said. “They know how to maneuver in such cases, but we are determined to get justice for our Christian ‘daughter.’”

Pained by her suffering for months, Sahotra said it was encouraging to see her take a stand against them.

“Her act will set a precedent for all other girls who are silently suffering in similar situations due to fear for their own lives and reputation and the lives of their loved ones,” he said. 

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2024 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, as it was the previous year.