“If you don’t stop trying to find your daughter, we will accuse you of blasphemy.” These are the threats made by the abductor, Abdul Jabbar, to the parents and the lawyer representing Huma Younas, the Christian girl he himself has abducted. Her case has been brought to the notice of ACN International by her family’s lawyer, Tabassum Yousaf.
This is the most recent development in the dramatic story of the 14-year-old Christian girl who was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan on October 10 this year, forcibly converted to Islam and forced to marry her own Muslim abductor, Abdul Jabbar.
“It often happens that the abductors threaten to accuse their victim’s family of blasphemy”, the Catholic lawyer explains. “It is a charge which in Pakistan can mean the death sentence.” In cases such as that of this girl, Huma, it is extremely difficult for the families of the victims to obtain justice. “The Christian families involved are often poorly educated and do not know their own rights”, Mrs Yousaf explains. “And in any case they are too poor to be able to afford the legal expenses to bring such cases to court. The result is that the abductors have an easy time of it, often thanks to the complicity of the police themselves who, instead of encouraging the parents to pursue the case, actually help the abductors by advising them of the legal loopholes they can make use of.”
Sadly, this is a critical situation that is faced every time a Christian girl – even a minor, like this girl, Huma Younas – is abducted, raped, forcibly “converted” and forced to “marry” her own abductor.
The lawyer, Tabassum Yousaf, has submitted the case to the High Court in Sindh province, where the capital, Karachi is located, with a charge of abduction, forced conversion and forced marriage. Yet despite the fact that the family has presented the birth certificate and baptismal certificate of the girl, which clearly attest that Huma is just 14 years old, her abductor maintains that she is really 18 years old. And, probably with the connivance of the local police, the man himself has levelled a counter charge against her parents. “Sadly, in Pakistan, even when you are in the right, it is not easy to obtain justice”, Mrs Yousaf explains.
Crucial to the case now will be the involvement of local politicians and local media, who until now have remained silent about the case, despite the interest in the international media. That is why this morning, the lawyer and the girl’s parents hold a public demonstration outside the Press Club in Karachi. “If no one intervenes at the local level”, the lawyer explains, “there is a risk that Huma will no longer be able to return home”.
Tabassum Yousaf is a Pakistani Catholic lawyer who works closely with the Archdiocese of Karachi and the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission. Among other cases, it leads the legal defense of several families of abducted, raped and forcibly converted Christian teenagers. She cooperates regularly with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) foundation.
In 2018 ACN financed 61 projects in Pakistan, including the construction of churches and the formation of religious and laity. In addition, since 2011 the foundation supports the Justice and Peace Commission in Lahore that provides assistance to victims of the blasphemy law and their families.