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     Home > Charity and Solidarity  >  2014-04-29 15:20:27
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Pak Catholics join hands in prayer while sexual violence against children continues

April 29, 2014: Sexual violence against girls continues in Punjab province, with perpetrators still free amid government silence and police inaction. In view of the situation, the Catholic Church of Pakistan yesterday organised torchlight processions and prayers in many Pakistani churches to demand justice for the innocent victims of sexual violence.

At the end of Sunday Mass, meditations and prayers were performed for the young victims, especially for the speedy recovery of Sara - a gang rape victim- and the release of Sawan Masih and Asia Bibi, who were sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Originally from a village in Sialkot District, little Sara remains in hospital in critical conditions, whilst her father is held illegally by police to prevent the family from reporting the crime. Sara is not alone. In the past week, two other underage girls were raped in Punjab: a nine-year-old girl raped and then murdered in Jhang District, and a six-year-old girl raped (and left in critical conditions) in Faisalabad yesterday afternoon.

Human rights activists and clergymen noted that the situation has crossed a critical threshold with the authorities showing no interest in protecting ordinary people. Citing a recent study by the human rights groups Masihi Foundation and Life for All Pakistan, Fr John Ayub, a priest active in the protection of minors in the Punjab, noted a rise in brutal attacks, which confirms the escalation of violence. Hence, he wants the authorities to take these incidents seriously and better protect citizens.

According to the study, with data from 2013, there were 370 cases of rape, including 185 cases of gang rape; 1,603 honour killings; 2,133 cases of unspecified violence against women; 406 cases of forced marriages, including 176 minors; 220 women killed following accusations of adultery and 887 cases in which women were tortured by police.

Punjab is the province with the highest number of cases (2602), followed by Sindh (1883), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (1181) and Baluchistan (864). However, only a few cases of violence (just over 10 per cent) are ever reported so the actual number far exceeds official figures.
(Source: AsiaNews)


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