Pakistani Court Upholds Life Sentence of a Man Who Raped a Minor Christian Girl
In Pakistan, sexual abuse of young children is not uncommon. Often such abuse goes unreported and unpunished due to the lack of education and awareness about such crimes. This is especially true when the victim’s family is poor, uneducated, or a religious minority. However, when such crimes are reported and properly handled, courts do punish the criminals.
A few months ago, we informed you about a case in which a trial court in Gujranwala, Pakistan, sentenced a Muslim man to life imprisonment for raping a nine-year-old Christian girl and how her family persevered in the face of pressure from the rapist’s family.
In a similar case, our affiliate in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), represented a Christian family back in 2018–2019 whose five-year-old daughter was raped by a 30-year-old Muslim neighbor.
In August 2018, the little girl (we’ll call her “A” for her privacy and protection) was staying at her uncle’s house for a sleepover with her uncle’s children. It is not uncommon for little children in Pakistan to go alone to a neighborhood shop to buy candy. Like other children, A went to a nearby shop to get candy, when her uncle’s neighbor, Khalil Ahmed, saw her, gave her some money, and said he would get her more candy. Then, he took her to a nearby house (that was under construction) and raped her.
A came home crying in dirty and bloodstained clothes. She told her aunt and uncle what happened. Her uncle asked her to show him the place where the man had taken her, which was not far from their house. While they were at the crime scene, Khalil Ahmed passed by. A saw him, pointed to him, and said, “That is the man who gave me money and hurt me.” Her uncle ran and caught Ahmed and started beating him, but Ahmed escaped.
The family took A to the hospital and informed the police. A medical exam was performed, which confirmed she was raped. The police immediately arrested Ahmed. Our team in Pakistan visited A’s family and offered legal assistance.
During the trial, the court heard the testimony of several witnesses, including the doctor who performed the medical exam and police officers involved in the investigation. The court also examined the medical and DNA reports. After considering all the evidence during the trial, which took over a year, the court sentenced Ahmed to life imprisonment.
As we’ve previously explained, one may assume in the face of such overwhelming evidence that a conviction in this case would have been clear:
However, that is not always the case in Pakistan, especially where the victim is a Christian. Often a Muslim man who attacks, kills, enslaves, or steals from a Christian can end up going free because the Christian minority victim has no one standing up for his or her rights.
In this case, Ahmed appealed his conviction, which was heard on May 3, 2023. After hearing arguments from both sides, including our OLA attorneys, the Lahore High Court upheld Ahmed’s conviction. If he appeals this decision, it will be several years until the Supreme Court hears his appeal. Whenever that happens, God willing, our team will stand ready to oppose that appeal as well.
A’s family is thankful for the support they have received from the OLA. We also thank our team in Pakistan for their hard work and dedication. We further thank our supporters whose prayers and support allow us to continue helping our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and around the world.