PAKISTAN: Christian Schoolgirl Escapes from Kidnapper After a Year

Oct 5, 2022 | VoM

Anita Emmanuel was 16 years old when she was kidnapped by her rickshaw driver in August last year.

Recently, the young Christian girl managed to escape her captor and has been reunited with her family after more than a year of separation.

At the time of her kidnapping, Anita was in Year 10 at a high school in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. Because both of her parents work, they had made an arrangement with a rickshaw driver they trusted to drive Anita to and from school.

After a while, the rickshaw driver, Muhammad Wasim, began to flirt with young Anita and asked if they could begin a relationship. Anita refused Muhammad, but hesitated to tell her parents about the incident, fearing it would upset them.

Then, on 31 August 2021, Muhammad picked Anita up from school and, instead of taking her home, drove her to another town in the Rahim Yar Khan district. Anita said in her report: “When I tried to shout, he stopped the rickshaw and told me not to create a scene, otherwise he’d kill me. I was scared and kept silent as I had no other option.”

“I was kept locked inside a room where [Muhammad] abused me sexually over and over,” she continued. “When I fought back, he left me to starve. There were days when he didn’t even give me any water to drink.”

“I couldn’t sleep for many nights as I did not know what would happen to me. One day some people came to the house and Muhammad forced me to sign some documents. He told me that I was now a Muslim and married to him. It was shocking for me, but I was alone and not able to do anything apart from follow their instructions.”

“After months, I found an opportunity to escape. I reached my parents’ house, and they were happy to see me alive. The whole family was crying.”

Emmanuel Masih, Anita’s father, spoke recently about what they had gone through. “When Anita didn’t come home that day we got worried,” he shared.

“We went to her school, and there was nobody there apart from the security guard, who told us Anita had left with her rikshaw diver as usual.

“I phoned Muhammad, but there was no answer. We went to the police station and told the police about my missing daughter, but they didn’t pay us any attention and told us to wait another day before reporting. That whole night, our family couldn’t sleep. I was continuously thinking about my daughter and praying for her safety.

“The next morning, I went to the police station and requested again that the police officer register a first information report (FIR) against Muhammad and rescue our daughter from him.

“There was no action for a few days, and I was disappointed. One day, Muhammad came to my home and started threatening me, saying I should withdraw my complaint to the police and that if I didn’t, I would never see my daughter again. He told me that he had married Anita, and that she had converted to Islam.

“Then one day, Anita came home. She was weak and frightened and kept crying. Her mother and I were so happy to see her alive. We listened as she told us the whole story of how she was kidnapped and how she escaped.

“After Muhammad learned that Anita had come home, he started threatening us. I decided to move to another town for the safety of Anita and our family.”

Source: CLAAS-UK (Centre for Legal Aid & Assistance)

Please Pray

Pray for protection over Anita and her family as they resettle in a new town. Pray that the police will help to keep them safe by taking action against Anita’s kidnapper.

Pray that Anita will be able to grieve the time she has lost and receive help for trauma counselling. Pray also that she will be able to return to school and finish her studies.

Pray for the many Christian girls who are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslim men each year. Pray that they will be comforted and encouraged in their faith despite their circumstances.