Police in Lahore have recovered the bodies of two Christian sisters whose Muslim supervisors pressured them to convert to Islam before killing them.
On January 4th, police informed Mushtaq Masih that the decomposed bodies of his wife, Sajida Mushtaq, and her sister, Abida Qaiser, had been found in a drainage ditch, tied up in sacks. The women had been missing since November 26th. Sajida was the mother of three children, while Abida was the mother of one daughter.
After the women disappeared, a relative told Mushtaq that Sajida, who worked at a pharmaceutical factory with her sister, confided that their supervisors, Muhammad Mumtaz and Naeem Butt, had been urging both Sajida and Abida to convert to Islam and marry them. This was reported to the police, who then interrogated the two men.
Naeem eventually confessed that they had abducted, raped, and then murdered the sisters. When police notified Mushtaq that the bodies had been found, the father of three was devastated. He believes Sajida and Abida were killed because they were poor Christian workers. He is calling for justice "so others will be able to learn how women must be treated and respected, even if they are poor or belonging to a minority." A video report on this tragic event is available here.
In a separate incident, which also took place in Lahore, the family of two other sisters claim that their loved ones had been forcibly converted to Islam by their employers and, as a result, are no longer permitted to see their concerned relatives.
These other sisters, Maham (18) and Anum (20) Manzoor, work as live-in cleaners at separate houses. When their aunt, Nasreen Bibi, went to pick up Maham on December 8th to take her shopping, the homeowners refused to let her visit with her niece. Later, she received a phone call from Anum's employer -- who happens to be a relative of Maham's employer -- announcing that both nieces had converted to Islam. The employer then threatened the aunt, demanding that she not make any further attempt to contact her nieces again.
Nasreen has been the sisters' legal guardian since their mother had abandoned them five years previous. Neither of these young women had mentioned anything to her about converting. In a December 15th court ruling, custody was awarded to the Muslim employers, accepting the claim that both women had converted to Islam.
According to a study conducted by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan, each year an estimated one thousand Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married to their captors. Many of these women are minors. Sexual assault and fraudulent marriages are used to entrap the victims, and the authorities are frequently complicit. For more information on the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, and to review previously published reports, go to our country report.
Please remember the families of the slain sisters, Sajida and Abida, in your prayers. Ask the Lord to give the grieving families wisdom and strength as they not only deal with the trauma of the situation, but also now must raise children who have lost loving mothers. Also prayerfully lift up the other two mentioned sisters, Maham and Anum, who have been prevented from seeing their relatives, along with the many other young women who've been abducted by militants and forced to live in horrific situations. Intercede for justice to be rendered in each of these cases and for the Holy Spirit's ministry to take place in the lives of all concerned, including those who are responsible for the crimes. May the perpetrators acknowledge their need for God's forgiveness and be receptive to His provision of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.