Pakistan: 13-yr-old Christian girl forcibly converted to Islam, father seeks justice

Pakistan 13-yr-old Christian girl forcibly converted to Islam, father seeks justice

ISLAMABAD: The forced conversion of girls from religious minorities to Islam continues unabated in Pakistan and its latest victim is a 13-year-old Christian girl.

The incident took place in Gujranwala city of Pakistan where the teenage girl was kidnapped and converted to Islam. According to her father, the kidnapper, who is Muslim, later married her forcefully.
The father of the victim is seeking justice for his family, Dawn reported.

Shahid Gill, who is a tailor from Arif Town, said his neighbour offered to hire his 13-year-old daughter as a salesgirl at his makeup accessories shop. However, Gill refused to send his daughter to work at the shop.

He said that the kidnapper, who is Muslim, continued to ask for help in his business, and because of his (Gill’s) poor background, he subsequently allowed his daughter to work at his neighbour’s store. Gill said that on May 20, he found his daughter absent at home and was informed by some neighbours that the girl was seen going somewhere on a pickup truck with the kidnapper and some other men and women.

He said he lodged a kidnapping complaint in Ferozewala police station and a case was registered on May 29 against the man and seven others.

Investigation Officer SI Liaqat said that two of the suspects were taken into custody but the girl later appeared before a local court where her statement was recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The girl submitted in the court that she had left her house willingly to convert to Islam and later contract marriage, according to the police officer.

He said the court had allowed the girl to go with her purported husband and ordered the police to quash the case, following which police had implemented the court order.

However, the girl’s father, Gill, said his daughter is 13-and-a-half years old and therefore the court should not have accepted her statement of converting and marrying willingly. The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 states that a marriage cannot be registered of a “child” — meaning a male who is under 18 years of age, and a female who is under 16 years of age.

Gill told that after hearing his concerns, the judge had said he would go with the girl’s statement. He said the man was already married and had four children including three daughters and a son. The complainant alleged that his daughter was lured and converted and married against her will and that she might have done this under duress.

He demanded the authorities confirm his daughter’s age from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and provide them justice. The minorities in Pakistan, especially Hindus, continue to face persecution at the hands of state and non-state actors as incidents of violence and forced conversions are on the rise.

Every year, around 1,000 young Sindhi Hindu girls between the age of 12 and 28 are abducted, forcibly married and converted to Islam, the US-based Sindhi Foundation has said. Pakistan on several occasions has promised to safeguard the interests of minority communities in the nation. However, rampant attacks on the minorities narrate a different story.

Islamabad has been discriminating against its religious minorities, which is manifested in various forms of targeted violence, mass murders, extrajudicial killings, abduction, rapes, forced conversion to Islam, etc., making the Pakistani Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadiyyas, and Shias one of the most persecuted minorities in the region. (ANI)