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Why Pakistani Christian Rape Victims Find It Difficult to Achieve Justice

Christian women raped in Pakistan have a hard time achieving justice because they fear it will only endanger their whole family.

In November 2014, two Muslim men were accused of kidnapping and raping Christian sisters in the Pakistani village of Jaranwala. But before the trial even started, the teenage rape victims were threatened with death and the suspects were acquitted last month, according to a Morning Star News report cited by World Mag.

The home of the Christian rape victims were sprayed with bullets before the trial began. After the trial, the girls' father moved them to a safer place for fear that they will be killed. He said they never got justice for what the two Muslim men did to her daughters.

Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BCPA) said the Christian girls lost the case because the key witness, a family friend of the victims, did not show up in court after receiving threats. The court later ordered him to attend the hearing, but he was bribed and altered his original statement, the report relays.

Recently, three Muslim men gang raped a deaf Christian woman inside her home in Kasur while her family members were at work. One of the suspects, Muhammad Umar, was arrested but the other two managed to escape. The victim's legal representative, Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, said the chance of getting justice in the case seems very slim, Breitbart reports.

The two cases demonstrate how common rape has become in the country and how getting justice for the victims is an almost hopeless case. The religious minorities in Pakistan are also being targeted for the crime because the perpetrators know they will not be punished, advocacy groups say.

In addition, there are some rape victims in Pakistan who choose to stay mum for fear of being shamed or being disappointed in the country's justice system. Moreover, many of them are intimidated and threatened if they try to fight back or speak out. Authorities may also opt not to investigate the case, and the family of the victims receives a lot of threats and harassment, pushing them to drop the charges later on, the report details.

Another problem is the practice of forced marriages and conversion to Islam. According to the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, around 700 Christian women are forced to embrace Islam every year. The perpetrator usually kidnaps and rapes a girl, then forces her to marry him. That way, even if the victim's family files charges against the suspect, the rapist will still retain custody of the woman.

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