Date: May 29, 2014
Sources: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, VOM Australia, Daily Times
Every year, as many as 700 Christian girls between the ages of 12 and 25 are kidnapped, forced to marry their abductors and pressured to convert to Islam in Pakistan. In many cases, these girls are coerced to state that they converted of their own will, allowing the perpetrators to escape punishment. When cases of forced marriage and conversion have been reported, police have shown blatant disregard for the criminal justice system. And if such cases do make it to court, the victimized girls remain in the custody of their abductors during the proceedings.
Pakistan's small Christian minority (less than three percent of the population) is one of the poorest, most vulnerable groups in the country, suffering from high levels of intolerance and persecution. High poverty rates have also negatively impacted Christian girls, forcing them to work as domestic servants where they suffer abuse, harassment, forced conversion to Islam and, sadly, even murder.
In late April, the father of a young girl registered a case with police after his daughter, Maria Sarfraz, was abducted and gang raped over the course of three days. As in other such cases, the assailants are reportedly pressuring the family to settle the matter out of court. The family has been warned that unless they comply, all the Christian homes in their town of Distt, Sheikupora, will be burned down.
After visiting Pakistan this month, Canada's Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett, stated, "We remain very concerned by repeated incidents of religiously motivated violence in Pakistan and the callous disregard of extremists for the rights of individuals of all faiths to practise their religion in peace and security."
Let us lift up Maria and the many other Christian girls and women in Pakistan who are facing terrible atrocities. Pray that God will minister to those who have been cruelly abused, healing their hearts and helping them to overcome their pain, fear and shame. In addition, pray that those who have been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam will continue to worship the true God in their hearts, while trusting Him to provide a way for them to safely return to their homes and families. Please also intercede on behalf of those who are perpetrating these terrible deeds...that the Lord will work mightily in their hearts and bring them to repentance so they may experience forgiveness through His shed blood
To learn how VOM supports and equips women facing persecution for their faith, please visit our Women's Ministry web page at www.persecution.net/womens-ministry.htm.