Published on: 10 January 2018
Sidra Masih, a 26-yr-old Christian girl who was single and lived at home with her family in Faisalabad Pakistan, worked as a beautician in a salon.
The salon owner, Madam Zahida, was happy with Sidra’s work for the two years she was employed. Zahida’s brother, Fareed, however, began causing Sidra trouble. He was smitten by her beauty and would often come to the salon deliberately to give her a hard time. Sidra ignored him many times.
Fareed’s harassments increased so Sidra complained to Zahida about her brother’s behavior. Zahida told her that Fareed was just kidding and Sidra should be proud to be getting his attention.
On Sep 10 Fareed proposed to her at work in front of her colleagues. He told her if she embraces Islam and marries him she will go to heaven. Sidra refused his proposal.
The following day, she told Zahida about the marriage proposal and also told her family. Her family made her quit her job.
On Sept. 17, in the evening, Zahida came to Sidra’s house with her brother Fareed and three clerics. They threatened her to convert and marry Fareed or a blasphemy case will be brought against her family. She was given 3 days to decide.
On Sep 20 when Sidra went for a new job interview three men kidnapped her, using chloroform to make her unconscious. When she came to, she found herself blindfolded and tied with ropes.
One of the men said they will let her go home if she embraces Islam. Sidra refused to convert so the man aggressively raped her while the other two laughed. One of the kidnappers slapped her and was about to shoot her but Sidra begged for her life and repeated the religious words needed to confirm her conversion to Islam. They told her to accept the marriage proposal to Fareed. Frightened, Sidra accepted. The three masked men dropped her off at her home threatening to rape her again and kill her if she told anyone about the incident.
Bravely, Sidra told her mother, Shamim Masih, who went to the police station to report the incident. The police officer informed Sidra’s mother to marry her daughter as soon as possible. He also avoided filing a case against the perpetrators.
Pakistan law prohibits conversion and marriage under harassment, still for minorities there is no law that will protect them.
Sidra’s family went to their local priest who provided them shelter for three months. On Dec 12 Sidra received a threatening phone call so the priest got her on a flight to Sri Lanka.
On Dec 19, after being interrogated by immigration at Sri Lanka, she was finally permitted on Dec 20 to go to Negombo.
Under the stress of her ordeal Sidra passed out and was taken to hospital by some Pakistani Christians where she was admitted for three days.
Sidra has requested asylum in Colombo. To save her life, Sidra was forced to say (kalma) religious words to accept Islam. Her return to Pakistan will cost Sidra her life.