A nine-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan was reportedly gang-raped before being killed and dumped in a canal. And outrage is growing amid reports that almost a month later no arrest has been made.
Nisha Javid was walking close to her home when she suddenly disappeared, prompting her parents to mount a search for her.
Barely two days later, with a police-led search underway, her body was found in a canal not far from the Javids’ home in Essangri village, outside the town of Jaranawala, Faisalabad.
A post mortem revealed Nisha had been gang-raped and had died after repeated blows to the head.
More than three weeks later, police have been accused of inaction and refusing to follow up allegedly compelling evidence identifying the guilty party.
Fr. Yaqub Masih, parish priest of Jaranwala, said, “People here are very sad – especially the family.”
He explained that Nisha’s mother is “ill with grief” and that her father is unable to work and is devoting every hour to win justice for his daughter’s death, working with police and lawyers.
Masih underlined the impact of the attacks on other Christians.
"If nothing is done about this, where can our children go to feel safe? Everyone feels very insecure and very afraid," he said.
The crime took place on April 9 – Maundy Thursday in Holy Week – and Christians believe the attack was intended as an insult to their faith.
"Our people are very poor and they have no status in society," said Masih. "What can they do to protect themselves?"
He reported that the police have been publicly accused of corruption and failing to intensify their inquiries.
"The police action has been very slow," he noted. "And that has made the people here feel even more powerless."
His comments come amid an upsurge of anti-Christian violence and intimidation in Pakistan.
Nisha’s death follows a narrowly-averted attack on Christians in Jaranawala, prompted by accusations that a man had allegedly damaged a banner containing words from the Koran, thereby breaking Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.
Also this month in the southern city of Karachi, four people, including an 11-year-old boy, were injured in attacks on Christians that took place on April 22.