Gemma Wilkinson is a mother distraught because her Pakistani ex-partner kidnapped their little girl in 2009 and took her to Lahore, Pakistan and left her there. Despite by being imprisoned on his return to the UK, he refuses to give any clue as to what he has done with little Atiya, who - if still alive - would now be 6 years old. Gemma has had to face talk that her little girl might have been sold like a piece of merchandise by her father, or worse. The father, Razwan Ali Ranjum, will only claim 'she's in Iran'.
Anyone with information should phone police on 101, the Foreign Commonwealth Office on 020 7008 0878 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
And we should pray for her safety, for her wicked father's repentance, and for the comfort of the mother.
For those of us who follow the situation in Pakistan, this kind of treatment of girls and women is no surprise. Girls are indeed bartered and sold, as a recent story in a UK national paper revealed. Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that a rich Muslim landlord was involved, but this time the girl was Muslim. In the remote rural area of Bahalak, Punjab, village elders worked to end a year-long feud between a poor farmer and a rich landowner. The farmer was arrested for partaking in the illegal agreement which involved handing over his 9 year old daughter as 'compensation' as decreed by the village elders. She was 'sold' to be married to the landlords 22 year old son. Four council members have also been arrested.
We recently reported on another attack on the women of Pakistan (and let's not forget the Taliban attempted assassination of Mahala, that has made international headlines recently) - the arson attack on a prominent girls school in Pakistan by Muslim extremists, on the pretext that a copying mistake by a teacher setting an exercise was 'blasphemous'. However the girls and their teachers of this prestigious school have defiantly continued school in makeshift classrooms on the street.
BPCA would like to remind readers that we have launched a two fold Christmas appeal - firstly for the St Paul's school, destroyed in an attack on a church, and secondly for regular givers to support the creation of a small school. Just 50 or so people paying £10 per month can enable the school to run.
In another horrific incident, two Muslim parents in Pakistani Kashmir beat up and poured acid all over their 15 year old daughter, Anvu Sha, simply for speaking to a teenage boy outside their house. They did this on Monday 29th October, but despite her being so badly burned that her scalp bone showed, they didn't take her to the hospital until the next morning, and she died of her injuries - 70% burns - on Wednesday the 31st, a truly horrific Halloween incident. The parents claimed she had committed suicide, but the girls married older sister was suspicious that they wouldn't let mourners at the funeral see her face, and called the police, who arrested the parents and charged them with murder.
Things are bad enough for women in general in Pakistan, but of course, Christian and minority women often have it even worse. On 22nd October, yet another Christian teenage girl was kidnapped, presumably raped, forced to marry and convert. 14 year old Timar Shahzadi was snatched by Muslim men whilst on the way home from school in Islamabad / Rawalpindi with friends. Her parents immediately went to the police station, but they police - typically - have done nothing. The family is too poor to initiate a tribunal procedure.
In another story of injustice, in March 16 year old Christian Saima Masih of Tehsil Yazman mandi, Bahawalpur, was kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam by a young rich Muslim landlord called Muhammad Javed. Her father was a poor farm worker. Mohammed Javed had often sexually harrassed Saima. On the 25th of January when she went to a Bazaar with a friend, he publicly harrassed her and 'proposed' marriage. She refused vigorously. Her parents went to complain to Javed's father. The father did not warn his son, but threatened the poor family with terrible consequences. On 9th March, Javed, with help from Zubaida Bibi, a neighbour on good terms with the victims of the family, kidnapped Saima from her house while her family were out. They took her to Gujurat where Javed and his uncle Muhammed Sarwar raped her. Her father Gulzar Masih went to the police, but they did nothing, and when Javed learned of this, he forced Saima to convert to Islam on 15th of March after taking her signature and thumb print. On the 21st he forced her to marry him, getting her signature on the Islamic marriage certificate. For 6 months she was sexually abused and raped by both Javed and his uncle Muhammed Sarwar, but she managed to escape on 12th September and managed to get to her parents.
Again the family went to the police, but again they did nothing, presumably to the wealth and influence of the criminals. FIR's placed by human rights organisations have been turned down in the courts, and Javed's family and other politically influential people are threatening the family, telling them to drop the case or they will make life hell for the Saima.
According to the NGO, only about 2% of such rape cases are reported because of poverty and discrimination.