Representatives of the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA) announced they will represent a Christian woman who was assaulted by an influential Muslim for refusing to clean his house. Bashiran Bibi, 58, allegedly was beaten into unconsciousness after an angry male said Christians couldn't refuse to take orders, stated ACLJ spokespersons.
Bibi lives in Pattoki, and cleans houses for a living because her husband is paralyzed and cannot work. Having converted to Christianity from the lower caste of Hinduism during the British Raj, many Christians in Pakistan reportedly work as sanitation workers to clean homes, offices and sewers.
On Sept. 24, 2016, Bibi reportedly was throwing out garbage after a cleaning job when Muhammad Afzal, a prominent Muslim landlord in the village, asked her to stop by his house. When she did go Afzal's house, he reportedly asked her to clean it. She said she refused, stating she was too old to take another job. ACLJ spokespeople said Afzal became angry upon hearing how a Christian could refuse to take orders, and then grabbed Bibi by her hair, pushed her to the floor, and began kicking and punching her until she became unconscious.
Afzal's wife reportedly pleaded with him to leave Bibi alone. When Bibi regained consciousness, she went home. She reportedly was badly injured and a medical exam revealed a fractured shoulder, reports British Pakistan Christians.
Paras Masih, Bibi's son, took her to the local police station to register a complaint, but he said the police refused to register it.
On Oct. 20, 2016, after obtaining the required medical reports, ACLJ filed a petition with the local court, asking the court to order the police to file criminal charges against Muhammad Afzal. The court issued a notice to the police to submit comments.
The police officer in charge of the investigation did not submit any comments at the next hearing. So, the court allowed ACLJ representatives to submit detailed, based Bibi's medical report.
Muhammad Afzal's brother, Muhammad Ali, told the court that Afzal was mentally ill and asked for leniency from the court. Court officials gave time to the defendant to reach a settlement (allowed under Pakistani law) with Bibi. The defendant tried to offer nominal monetary compensation to her, but she wanted to press charges.
On Dec. 9, 2016, the court ordered the investigation officer to file charges against the defendant.
OLA representatives state they are waiting for local police to register formal charges on the basis of the court order. If the police still refuse to file a case, they said they will go back to court. Once the case is filed, the police are required to submit an investigation report, and the proceedings will begin.
Mehwish Bhatti, lead Pakistan officer for the British Pakistan Christian Association, said Bibi's family had been threatened with death if they continued to pursue for justice in the courts, so the association removed them from a potentially violent situation. "Bashiran has now found new work through help from our safe house team but is still traumatized by the incident she recalls every minute of the attack and believes the attack would have been more severe had she not passed out. Her family are hopeful that they will see justice."