- Thursday, October 15, 2015
- by Wilson Chowdhry Tel: +442085140861 Mobile/Cell:+447854972343
Farzana, Mehwish Bhatti, Sherish and their younger brother all images taken when provided with new temporary home, before sorrowful court result.
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Sadly Sherish and Farzana have lost their fight for justice. As you may recall, the two young teenage sisters lost their innocence after being abducted at gunpoint while using a field as a toilet, and subjected to a torturous 12 hour gang rape ordeal by local Muslim boys (click here).
The family have been living in hiding at a home paid for by British Pakistani Christian Association, after severe threats were received at their home which was also subjected to a gun attack, during which bullets narrowly missed the youngest son. The usual residence for the girls is with our lead officer Mehwish in a safe house where they have been undergoing academic learning in English, Maths, Urdu and vocational skills in tailoring (click here). However during a period where their father fell ill, and during the flurry of court activity, the family wished to live together for support. This most recent devastating blow has knocked some of the stuffing out of them and as a result they have decided to spend a further few weeks together.
The case has allegedly been lost due to the unreliability of a key witness who originally, in the face of threats, refused to attend the court, then when instructed to attend by the court changed his original statement. Mr Ghafoor, who was previously a family friend, has been accused of taking a bribe and altering his statement in lieu of this payment.
Another factor has been the performance of the lawyer Mushtaq Ahmed, who offered to conduct the legal cover for the family for free and then asked us to pay £200 expenses. From the outset we have been concerned about his lack of attendance at court and lack of response to our requests for updates. We were further surprised when we learned he failed to attend several of the court dates that were essential for the family. We have also been advised that he even failed to utter a word during the cross examination session with the culprits, which utterly undermined the families’ prosecution according to the father. Since discussing this with other charities we are very disappointed and concerned to have learned that Mushtaq has actually never won a case and is known for claiming he is representing clients he is not working with. We can provide evidence for this and write this to advise potential donors to LEAD Family Solicitors in Pakistan, who may fall into a similar trap.
As a consequence of the judgement all the rapists have now been set free, and already the family have had to face ridicule and threats from the perpetrators.
Ilyas Masih, the girls’ father, said:
“I am really upset and disappointed that we have lost the case and didn’t get justice. Mushtaq Gill didn’t fight the case very well and showed a poor level of commitment. Mostly he stayed absent from the hearings of the case in the court. The lawyer didn’t even participate in the cross questioning of the culprits in the court.”
He said: “I want to appeal to High Court now because I want justice for my daughters. Ilyas Masih described his concern over the Pakistani Justice System, he said: “The judge and police displayed a clear bias towards the culprits because of the religious discrimination.”
Ilyas Masih is worried that it will be impossible for him to go back to his home in the village of Jaranwala due to the severity of threats. Although there are some influential people from the village that have assured him they will help his family to live securely in the village, he knows that they cannot protect him all the time and may change their position under the pressure that is being applied. Ilyas is terrified for his family and needs some help to buy his own home in a safer location. He is now frightened of village life and is hoping to relocate to a city. Having already had a gun attack on his home the BPCA can confirm that his anxiety is well founded (click here). Our current rented property for the family will expire in 8 months, however we hope to help by either extending this period for a further year to give the family a longer period away from the pain, or if possible to buy a safe house for the family to reside in until they are able to afford their own home – which we would help them to do. The home can then be used to help other rape or blasphemy victims for a period of longevity. A safe house will cost in the region of £12,000 and while the family are living there they will be retaining their saved rent and sale of their existing home, so they can purchase their own new home. We are also training Sherish and Farzana to be tailors whereby they should be able to earn ten times the salary they were earning as bonded labourers, which will help them contribute towards the new home.
The girls have been doing relatively well despite everything that they have been through, but Farzana, the elder of the two, has suffered anxiety and depression since the attack and has been even more withdrawn since the court announcement that their prosecution has failed. In recent weeks a donor has offered to pay for a series of 10 trauma counselling sessions with a professional licensed psychiatrist for Farzana and we hope to begin these soon.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA said:
“News of the failure of the sisters to get justice is heartbreaking. Muslim NGO ‘Movement of Solidarity and Peace’ reported on the 700 Christian girls kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage very year (click here). Judging by this latest result and the insouciance of the police and legal authorities, the figures are set to worsen, as the message is very clear, rape is a crime that can be carried out with impunity in mysogynist Pakistan.”
All pictures taken before court result.
Siblings happy to be reunited before the court date
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Sort Code: 20-44-22
Account number: 43163318
Bank: BarclaysRef: Love for Sherish and Farzana
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BRITISH PAKISTANI CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION is a trading name for BRITISH PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS LTD which is a charity entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1163363
With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Pakistani Christians.