A Christian widow in Pakistan, Shazia Imran Masih, has been gang-raped and killed for refusing to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim, Morning Star reports.
Shazia, 40, was killed in Lahore in June by four Muslims who abducted her and subsequently slashed her neck and bathed her with acid.
It is not however clear if the acid burns came before or after her death though a member of the group, who reportedly wanted to marry her, has confessed to the crime.
Her brother, Zafar Masih, said Shazia, who took up a job as a nanny at a daycare centre at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, left her rented apartment in Mehar town in Lahore for work on June 6, but never came back home.
He said one of the gang members, Noman Gujjar, also called Mani, has been pressuring her and her children to convert to Islam and then marry him.
“Shazia did not share this with us due to fears for our security, but three days before her abduction, she told (another relative) that Gujjar had threatened to kill her if she did not surrender to his demand,” Masih said.
He said Shazia’s 16-year-old son informed him that his mother had not returned from work, he and other relatives began to search for her on June 7 and that when they could not find her, they reported to the police.
Masih, a member of a local evangelical church, said, “Later in the day we received a call from the Hyer police station that they found a body from a plot that matched Shazia’s description.
“We immediately went to the police station but when we saw the body we could not believe our eyes. Shazia’s jugular vein had been slit with a sharp object, and her body had been badly burnt by acid.”
A forensic examination showed that the victim was gang-raped before she was killed.
Cry for justice
Masih said the family wants justice for their sister
According to him, Shazia’s husband was killed over a year ago but that the family has not got justice because the police considered it as an accident.
He said the police arrested Gujjar for the killing of the Christian widow and he has confessed to the killing, however, the Force appears not to be interested in apprehending his (Gujjar) brother and two cousins allegedly involved in the incident.
According to him, “The accused are very influential, and they have been persistently threatening us to reconcile and withdraw the case. Due to these threats, we have been forced to go into hiding and are not even free to pursue the case.
“Gujjar is still in police custody, but we doubt that we will get justice for our sister, as the police’s bias is evident by its inaction against the remaining accused.”
Masih said Shazia’s children of six, seven and 16 years, who are being cared for by her elderly mother, are traumatised by the incident.
“We have lost all hope for justice and appeal to our church leaders and government officials to provide justice and security for us,” he said
Meanwhile, the police in Punjab, in a tweet, said they regret the killing of Shazia’s is assuming a “religious colour.”
It said, “The main accused in his confessional statement has said that the woman had developed relations with him after her husband’s death and had now started blackmailing him prompting him to murder her.”
The police did not however address the allegation of bias and inaction made by Shazia’s family.
Open Door, a Christian watchdog, in its 2023 World Watch List, ranked Pakistan seventh among 50 nations where it is difficult to follow Jesus Christ. It placed 8th position in the previous ranking.
Also, in 2022, the United States placed Pakistan on its list of “Countries of Particular Concern” for religious freedom violation.