Church leaders have once again spoken out against the suffering of Christians in Pakistan following the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl.
Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, the chairman of the country’s Justice and Peace commission, and Peter Jacob, the commission’s executive secretary, issued a strong statement following the violent death of 12-year-old Christian girl Shazia Bashir.
The girl was displaying signs of violence and torture when she was taken to Jinnah Hospital in Lahore on Friday, January 22, but doctors were unable to save her.
The girl’s parents claim they had been forbidden to see Miss Bashir for several days before her death.
In their statement, Archbishop Saldanha and Mr. Jacob stressed that this was not an isolated incident of violence but that domestic servants frequently suffer extreme violence.
Reports suggest that Christian girls from poorer families are more likely to be physically or sexually abused by their employers.
Francis Sada, Director of the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi spoke about the events to Vatican news agency Fides. He said, “Christians in society, especially poor families, suffer all forms of violence and bullying. We have documented a litany of cases that bear witness to this.”
“The police and the government do not do much to protect us and often many cases end in impunity.”
Police initially refused to accept any complaint in the case of Shazia Bashir, but Christians and Muslims protested outside the Punjab Assembly for three hours on 23 January demanding action.
Thousands attended the funeral on Monday 25 January in Lahore, including Christian bishops from all denominations.
The following day her former employer Chaudhry Naeem appeared in court in connection with her death. The judge has adjourned the hearing until next Wednesday, February 3rd.
Miss Bashir was supporting her parents and eight-year-old brother. Her income was 1,000 rupees a month ($22).