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Family of Pakistani girl 'kidnapped and forcibly married' slam authorities over inaction

An estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted and forcibly married every year [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2021

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The case is now being examined by a government inquiry into the forced conversions of religious minority women and girls.
The family of young girl in Pakistan who was allegedly kidnapped and forcibly married have slammed authorities over alleged inaction and discriminating against religious minorities, The Guardian has reported.

The 12-year-old girl was abducted from her home in the eastern city of Faisalabad in June and taken to the Hafizabad home of 29-year-old Khizer Hayat, some 110km away, according to the report.

Her family said the girl was made to work clearing animal dung and was chained up in a cattle pen for over six months.

"They repeatedly raped my daughter. She was in trauma after being subjected to physical and mental torture. They had forcibly converted her to Islam," her father told The Guardian.

He said that police refused to register his complaints and instead threatened him for being a Christian, using discriminatory language.

After negotiations with her captors, the girl was bought a police station, where she arrived injured, according to her father.

Police held 29-year-old Hayat but then released him arguing there was no evidence the girl had not consented to the marriage and that a medical report showed she was 16.

A Faisalabad detective said that the girl had confessed before the magistrate that she married Hayat of "her own free will and she wants to live with him", he claimed.

Her father said his daughter was "traumatised" and expressed disbelief that she had testified in favour of her kidnappers.

He rejected the court report by presenting his daughter's birth certificate as well as photographs of deep cuts and sores on her ankles.

The case is now being examined by a government inquiry into the forced conversions of religious minority women and girls.

An estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted and forcibly married every year, according to a 2019 report by the NGO Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Most victims are minors, with sexual assaults and fake marriages used by perpetrators to entrap victims and evade the law.

There are around 2.5 million Christians among Pakistan's 223 million Muslim majority population with the minority facing frequent discrimination.

Read more:  Asia Bibi: Pakistani-Christian woman acquitted in decade-long blasphemy row finds refuge in Canada

"Despite the parliamentary Senate committee hearings, I am not hopeful that justice will be served to the poor family. She was injured and in a state of trauma," said Lala Robin, a Faisalabad-based activist.

"Teenage girls from religious minority groups are often targeted for forced conversions and marriages due to certain gaps in the law and weak laws. Police and judiciary make fun of the parents seeking justice."

In December, Pakistani leader Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into the forced conversions of religious minority women and girls.

Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, an interfaith representative for Khan, said: "We are aware of the incident and the state of Pakistan is fully committed to ensure justice to minorities whether it's forced marriage or forced conversion."


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