An 18-year-old Christian servant in Pakistan was beaten for refusing her employers’ demands to convert to Islam, according to her family and a London-based human rights group.
According to the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, an interdenominational aid agency, Anika Shehzad from the Ferozwala district Shakhupura in the Punjab province was beaten earlier this month, a few days after she took a job as a live-in servant.
The charity reports that Shehzad comes from a poor family and accepted the job as a domestic servant for the Muslim family, which paid about $30 per month. She was referred to the job by a neighbor.
But after being pressured by members of the employing family for her to leave Christ and to follow Islam, Shehzad was said to have told the family that she decided to quit the job.
Her decision to quit angered the family members and they began to beat the teenager. After the beating, Shehzad was taken back to her parents’ home in Ferozwala.
The employer told the girl’s father that she had been beaten for stealing money. After the child was taken for medical treatment, her parents began asking questions about why she was beaten.
CLAAS-UK reports that in response, the employer’s family accused the girl’s father of stealing money although he never visited the house where his daughter was working.
The family has sought the help of a local member of Parliament, Tariq Masih Gill. The family believes that their daughter was beaten only because she refused to convert to Islam, according to CLAAS-UK.
CLAAS-UK Director Nasir Saeed said in a statement that even though the Punjab Domestic Workers Act was passed in Lahore High Court in January 2019, abuses against domestic servants continue in Pakistan as the law largely remains unenforced.
Pakistan ranks fifth on Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.