Our international affiliate, European Centre for Law and Justice’s office, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), has secured another victory in Pakistan. About four months ago, we reported that the OLA’s legal team was representing an elderly Christian woman, Bashiran Bibi, who was assaulted by an influential Muslim man for refusing to clean his house.
When Bashiran brought the case to the police they refused to register it, likely after being bribed, despite having a medical report that listed numerous injuries including a fractured shoulder.
When Bashiran came to the OLA’s office, it was her last hope for justice. After listening to her and viewing the necessary medical reports, we filed a petition at the local court to order the police to file criminal charges against the perpetrator, Muhammad Afzal. The court issued a notice to the police to submit comments.
The police officer in charge of the investigation did not submit any comments at the next hearing. So, the court allowed us to deliver argument on the basis of Bashiran Bibi’s medical report. After hearing the argument, the court ordered the investigation officer to file charges against the defendant. Yet again, while the police filed the charges, they did not arrest the defendant and the defendant filed for a pre-arrest bail. After hearing our argument opposing the bail, the judge dismissed the defendant’s bail.
During this entire ordeal, the defendant kept pressuring and threatening Bashiran and her son to withdraw the case. But after his bail application was dismissed, he finally realized that Bashiran and her legal team were going to stand their ground and he offered to pay monetary compensation to settle the case. Bashiran agreed to receive 45,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly $450) as settlement. Had the OLA not been involved, Bashiran would have succumbed to Muhammad Afzal’s threats and pressure to withdraw her case without any justice. Additionally, she would have been susceptible to future attacks from men who could bribe and threaten their way out of any legal reprisals.
While Afzal should have served time in prison for his crime, Bashiran is satisfied with the outcome, knowing that she alone would not have been able to stand against the defendant. The very fact that a Muslim defendant had to offer monetary compensation to a poor, elderly Christian woman is a step forward for Christians and justice in Pakistan.
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