Tag Archives: Abduction

Pakistan: Read how father of a minor Christian girl, who was abducted and converted to Islam, has to pay a fine for seeking justice

Minor Christian girl abducted, raped and converted to Islam by 3 Muslims

On December 20 (Sunday), Pakistani Human right activist Rahat Austin shared a video on Twitter, wherein a Christian father who was trying to seek justice for his minor daughter had narrated the sordid tale of his endless miseries in Pakistan. His 13-year-old daughter Mehwish had been forcefully abducted, raped and converted to Islam by Sajid Ali, Sumaira and Tarav in Thokar Nayaz, Kanjrah Lahore.

Speaking about the same incident, the Pakistani activist today shared the copy of Lahore High Court orders which upheld a lower court’s decision asking the victim’s father to pay a penalty of PKR 30000. The activist stated that the victim’s father had approached Lahore High Court to waive off a fine of KR 30,000, imposed on him by a lower court when he approached it for help after his minor daughter was abducted. Instead of providing him with any sort of help, the lower court had imposed the penalty on the victim’s father.

Coming from a humble background, it was almost impossible for the victim’s father to arrange for the hefty sum. Therefore he had approached the Lahore High Court pleading it to forego the penalty imposed on him. However, the Pakistan HC instead of helping him upheld the order passed by the lower court and asked him to pay the fine immediately.

“It is impossible to get justice in Pakistan”, father of the 13-year-old Christian girl remarked

We had reported on Sunday how the distressed father of the 13-year-old Christian victim had warned of killing his entire family if justice was not provided to him. On being asked whether he sought help from any political leaders, the man had lamented: “Initially, we tried to meet Minister Jahaz Alam Ghasti on two occasions but failed. However, we met him later on 3 different occasions. He said that he cannot do anything about it… If Prime Minister, Ministers, Chief Justice and Parliamentarians do not listen to me or ensure the safe return of my child, then, I will be forced to kill my entire family.

Throwing light on the depraved conditions the religious minorities are having to live in, in Pakistan, the 13-year-old’s father had said: “It is impossible to get justice in Pakistan. Justice will only be rendered when my daughter returns back to me. Do not take my words lightly. If my daughter does not come back, then, I will do what I have promised,” the victim’s father remarked.

PAKISTAN: ABDUCTION, CONVERSION AND CHILD MARRIAGE OF RELIGIOUS MINORITY GIRLS

A new report from Jubilee Campaign USA in collaboration with Voice for Justice provides an overview of several common factors involved in cases of forced conversion and abduction.

On October 13, 13-year-old Pakistani Christian girl Arzoo Raja was kidnapped outside of her home in Karachi. Two days later, Arzoo’s parents were told that their daughter had been the latest victim of forced conversion and forced marriage. Azhar Ali, a Muslim man of about 45 years old, who lives in the house opposite Arzoo, was responsible for the kidnapping. The police showed little willingness to help Arzoo’s family, and therefore the family had little hope of getting their daughter back.

According to the National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP) and the Pakistan Hindu Council, each year approximately 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan are kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to their kidnappers or rapists.

The hope is that this report may serve as a tool to conduct advocacy and effectively address the situation and worrying trends of forced conversion and abductions of girls and women in Pakistan.

Second class citizens

Forcing Christian and Hindu girls to marry their captors and to convert to Islam is a reprehensible practice which happens often in Pakistan.

Religious minorities are considered to be second class citizens by a large part of the Pakistani Muslim community. Islam is the state religion and is practiced by more then 96 percent of the population. Non-Muslims are despised because they do not follow the teachings of Islam. This mindset of social hierarchy and division is often used as a justification for the abuse against vulnerable religious minorities.

The subordinate position of Christians and Hindus in Pakistan’s society makes it easy for Muslim men to kidnap girls of these communities with total impunity. It is very unlikely that the police, politicians, judges and other influential persons – who are predominantly Muslim – will campaign for and secure the return of these girls and follow through within the criminal justice system.

This permitting and accepting of discrimination against religious minorities at all levels in society enforces perpetrators to commit crimes with total impunity. In the case of Arzoo: her father describes how audacious and brazen the perpetrator was: “Azhar and his family live right across from us. We see them every day, knowing they kidnapped our daughter and they probably know where
Arzoo and Azhar are. Why is the police not doing anything?”

Another factor is the culture of fear within society, which allows the discrimination to continue.

Individuals who question the status quo and challenge Islamic classical understanding, risk their status and position in society and even have to fear for their own lives. Radical Muslims might perceive the campaigning for justice served to Christians and people from other religious minorities as an act of betrayal against the Muslim majority society and Muslim ideology.

Christian Teen Shares Survivor’s Testimony of Abduction and Forced Marriage in Pakistan

11/17/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In October, a 13-year-old Christian girl named Arzoo Raja was abducted as she played outside of her family’s home in Karachi, Pakistan. Arzoo’s parents reported the abduction to local police but were told two days later that their daughter had willingly converted to Islam and married their 44-year-old Muslim neighbor, Ali Azhar.

Since then, Arzoo’s case has made headlines in Pakistan and around the world.

Unfortunately, Arzoo’s case is not unique in Pakistan. According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year.

Many victims are minors taken from their families, sexually assaulted, married to an assailant, and held in captivity justified by falsified marriage and conversion documents. Violence and threats are used to compel victims to make statements in court supporting their captors.

Despite the odds stacked against them, some victims resist and escape to freedom. Reunited with their families, these survivors often have to go into hiding to maintain security.

International Christian Concern (ICC) recently interviewed one of these survivors to get a more in-depth view of abductions, forced marriages, and forced conversions in Pakistan. The details of the abduction, including names, have been changed or left out to maintain the survivor and her family’s security.

I will never forget what I went through,” Maria Bibi told ICC. “Although I was able to rejoin my family after two months, the wounds of this inhuman act will stay with me until the last breath of my life.

In early 2019, Maria, a 15-year-old Christian girl, was abducted from a relative’s house in Pakistan’s Punjab province by an adult Muslim man named Iqbal. After the abduction, Maria was raped multiple times over several weeks and kept in Iqbal’s custody.

Maria’s father filed a report with local police soon after the abduction. However, local police took more than a week to officially file a report and start the investigation into Maria’s disappearance.

After approximately a month in captivity, Iqbal took Maria to a mosque where she was told by three men she must recite the Islamic proclamation of faith. When she refused, the men beat her and forced her to place thumb impressions on several blank papers. The three men then performed a marriage ceremony and again forcefully put her thumb impression on a document used as a falsified marriage certificate.

The next day, Maria was taken to the local court. Before giving her statement, Iqbal told Maria that if she did not say she had converted to Islam and married him of her own free will, he would kill Maria’s parents and siblings. According to Maria, Iqbal made it seem like he already had some of her siblings in his custody.

In court, Maria gave into Iqbal’s threats. She claimed she was 20-years-old, converted to Islam, and married Iqbal of her own free will. The fake marriage certificate and conversion documents were submitted to the court, and Maria was renamed Ayesha.

With extraordinary bravely, however, Maria was eventually able to resist Iqbal and his threats. In a subsequent court hearing, Maria claimed that she was forcefully converted, forcefully married, raped, and abducted by Iqbal.

Within a week, Maria’s new testimony was recorded in front of a judge, and police were ordered to investigate the claims of forced marriage and forced conversion. However, even though the marriage and conversion were in doubt, Maria remained in Iqbal’s custody.

Police attempted to interview Iqbal, but he and his family fled, leaving Maria locked in a room in their house. Maria was eventually rescued by neighbors who broke into the locked room after hearing her cries for help.

Free, Maria called her parents. She was soon reunited with them and taken into protective custody by local police.

After more than two months in captivity, the Lahore High Court found that Maria was abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted. The court went on to order that Maria return to her parents and that Iqbal be arrested.

Since gaining her freedom, Maria and her family have lived in hiding. They have changed where they live, their phone numbers, and even the names they use in public. The family faces continuous threats from Iqbal’s relatives and supporters, claiming that Maria should be reunited with Iqbal and not stay with a Christian family.

This should not happen to a girl of any caste or creed,” Maria shared with ICC. “There should be a law in Pakistan that protects girls from religious minority communities.

Kidnapping girls, abusing and converting them against their will is like the law of the jungle,” Maria continued. “The kidnappers are misusing religion for their pleasure. The authorities must protect religious minorities, and there must be a campaign or orientation session for police to learn how to deal with these cases without bias.

Since Maria has returned to her family, dozens of similar incidents have been reported by Christians across Pakistan. Famous cases like that of Maira Shehbaz, Huma Younas, and Arzoo Raja have dominated headlines in Pakistan for months. As Maria suggests, more decisive action must be taken by authorities in Pakistan to curb this abuse. Until this is done, abductions, forced marriages and forced conversions will continue to be perpetrated against the country’s young and vulnerable.