In Pakistan, the Sindh court dismissed a petition to overturn a forced marriage and conversion of Huma Younus, a 14-year-old Christian girl from Karachi. The court stated that the marriage to her captor, Abdul Jabbar is valid under Islamic law since a girl can marry after she has had her first period.
Huma’s parents have been saying that the marriage is invalid, as the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act forbids marriage under the age of 18. But the judges, Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah, ruled that as per Sharia law, even if Huma was a minor, the marriage between her and her abductor Abdul Jabbar would be valid as she had already had her first menstrual cycle.
Huma was kidnapped from her home in Karachi in October last year when her parents were away. She was reportedly taken to Dera Ghazi Khan, a city in the Punjab province of Pakistan, about 600 Kms from her home. A few days after her conversion, the family of the girl had received conversion papers and marriage certificate. However, Her mother Nagina Younas had claimed that the papers are fake, as it takes several hours to reach where she was taken but the date of conversion on the papers was the same as the day of her abduction.
Her lawyer, Tabassum said that the parents have been crying constantly because the court justified the violation of their daughter’s body by citing Islamic Sharia law. The factor of age plays a role since forced conversions are not illegal in Pakistan. While Huma’s ‘husband’ claims this to be a marriage based on consent and Huma being an adult, her parents state that she was born on 22nd May, 2005.
The lawyer stressed that there have been attempts to delay the case by the authorities. “The next hearing in the case is set for March as the judge gave police more time for medical tests to determine the girl’s age”. The lawyer added that they have provided all necessary documents from the town hall and the church regarding her age but fears for Huma’s safety as no forcibly converted girl has returned back to their families.
Tabassum also said that Huma was not presented in the court during the hearing although she was scheduled to testify in the case. She said, “Huma was supposed to be present but did not show up. Why didn’t they show her to us? Why don’t they want her to testify?”
The family is concerned as the lawyer added that if pressure isn’t added on her captors, statistics show that either the girl is forced into prostitution or in the hands of the human traffickers.
In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the lawyer added that its a shame Christians are not recognized in the country despite contributing to its development. As per International Christian Concern, there have been 34 incidents of abduction, forced conversions, rape and assault against children, women in the first nine months of 2019.
Pakistan is notoriously infamous for its persecution of both religious and ethnic minorities within their own country. The forceful conversion programs have often been unleashed against the minorities especially Christians, Sikhs and Hindus living in Pakistan with utmost brutality.