Pak: Teenage Christian girl gang-raped; police side with attackers *Pak missionary promotes Christian unity and education for the country’s future

June 11, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, June 07, 2012: A 13-year-old Christian girl was gang-raped in Pakistan and members of her family beaten up, causing a pregnant aunt to lose her babies.

The attack on the teenager from Narowal happened on 29 March. She was kidnapped as she walked past one of the alleged offender’s house, drugged and taken to nearby fields where she was raped by three men. The Christian girl said that she was unable to cry out because her assailants stuffed cloth in her mouth.

She was found in the fields the following morning by her family, who had been searching for her since she went missing.

Police initially refused to register a case, urging the family to reach a settlement with the accused. But they refused, and around ten days later a rape case was lodged; a medical examination of the schoolgirl establishing that she had indeed been raped. The police have, however, already declared one of the accused, who is a retired inspector’s son, innocent.

The incident has affected the teenager deeply; she has not returned to school and says she never wants to go back.

Babies Stillborn

On 8 May, in an apparent attempt to put pressure on the family to withdraw the complaint, one of the suspects, along with his father, the retired inspector, and four other men broke into their home and beat them up. A pregnant member of the family gave birth the next day to two stillborn baby girls; their deaths are believed to have been caused by the attack. Other female members and children were also beaten up.

A case has been registered against the six suspects, who are accused of causing an abortion, assault on a woman, trespass, abetment, rioting and rioting armed with a deadly weapon. The police have not, however, arrested any of them.

The investigating officer in both cases, Sub Inspector Sarwat Hakeem, said that the 13-year-old girl had gone to the fields with the men of her own free will and had had consensual sex with one of them. He also dismissed the family’s complaint that the two unborn babies had died as a result of their mother being beaten up.

The family is now coming under further pressure from the accused, who are trying to claim ownership of a plot of land that the Christians own and are in the process of building on. The claim has forced them to stop construction work.

Christians in Pakistan are frequently denied justice, and Christian women are particularly vulnerable to attack by Muslim men, with whom the police and judiciary often side.

– barnabas team

Pakistan missionary promotes Christian unity and education for the country’s future


Pakistan, June 08, 2012: AsiaNews spoke with Fr Robert McCulloch, an Australian-born priest with 34 years in Pakistan. President Zardari has recently recognised his work with a major award. For the clergyman, minorities are “discriminated, not persecuted”. In his view, education is crucial for social development. Although he has moved to Rome recently, he is often back to the country of mission.

Christians in Pakistan “are discriminated, not persecuted,” Fr Robert McCulloch toldAsiaNews. For this reason, they need the “get united” and keep alive the “hope that is within us” for a better future of the country. The future of the Catholic Church is one of “great confidence” because “the new generations want to promote a Catholic view of the dignity of life.”

Born in the Australian State of Victoria in 1946, Fr McCulloch has been a missionary in Pakistan with the Missionary Society of St. Columban since 1978. Last year, he moved to Rome on a new assignment but has gone back several times to the country where he lived for decades to see the progress of his many initiatives (schools, hospitals and centres).

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari recently awarded him the Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam for his work on behalf of the nation’s development (pictured Fr McCulloch, President Zardari and Paul Bhatti).

During his many years of mission, the Australian priest taught Church history, literature and Latin, served as the dean of the National Catholic Institute of Theology and was spiritual director of priests and new seminarians in Karachi.

In Hyderabad, he administered the 110-bed St Elizabeth Hospital, which specialises in maternal and childcare. It is the only facility “for 20,000 people in rural Sindh.” Next September, it will open a new palliative care unit for the terminally ill. “Our best trained doctors and nurses will also visit the patients at home and take care of them. This fits the Catholic teaching on the dignity of life.”

News reports have often focused on attacks against minorities, especially Christians, by fringe and fanatical elements with people killed and wounded and property damaged or destroyed. However, for Fr Robert, the term persecution is too strong because in many places, including Karachi and Islamabad, “people are free to worship.”

In his view, it “is a matter of discrimination, not persecution”. Incidents like Gojra, Shanti Nagar, and Multan were politically motivated. The “concepts of majority and minority should be eliminated.”

During his mission in Pakistan, he focused on harmony and interreligious dialogue, especially with Muslims.

“Everywhere I went I tried to favour inter-confessional harmony. At St Elizabeth Hospital, one of the deputy medical superintendents is a Muslim. “We have Catholic, Muslim and Hindu doctors and nurses.”

During the floods in 2010 and 2011, our doctors and nurses worked together with Muslims and Hindus treating patients without distinctions.

“Since 1978, I have been involved in education and health care,” he explained, “opening small schools where I also taught.”

From the start in Sheikhpura, Hyderabad and Badin, in the interior of Sindh province, he developed more ambitious projects that have led to five schools in remote areas each with 400 pupils.

“Six years ago, I started a Catholic Centre of Academic Excellence for boys to break the boundaries of discrimination. This will help develop the future leaders of the Catholic Church.”

He also had the Theology Centre affiliate with the Melbourne College of Divinity students can thus earn a bachelors degree from Melbourne through the Catholic Church.

This has helped improve the training of Pakistani clergymen in the past ten years ago. “Among Pakistani Christians, the level of pride and confidence in their own faith has increased,” he said.

– asianews

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