In a startling decision, a Pakistan court has granted the custody of a 13-year-old girl Christian girl to her 44-year-old abductor, Ali Azhar. The minor girl was kidnapped from her residence in Karachi’s Railway Colony on October 13. She was then forced to convert to Islam and marry her abductor.
Journalist Bilal Farooqi confirmed the court ruling on Twitter. He had uploaded the birth certificate of the abducted girl, issued by the Sindh government, wherein the date of birth is mentioned as July 31, 2007. Despite evidence that the victim is a minor, the Court directed the abductor to keep the minor girl based on an affidavit signed by her under duress.
It is pertinent to point out that the Sindh provincial Assembly had enacted the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act in 2014, thereby barring child marriage and imposing a punishment of up to 3 years for the adult men.
13-yr-old Christian girl Arzoo Raja is kidnapped in Karachi,converted & married to a 44-yr-old man.A court, on basis of affidavit signed under duress, sent her with him, despite docs confirming her age.Many even celebrate.Who’ll take us seriously when we’re drenched in hypocrisy? pic.twitter.com/uh22zxM7vD— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) October 29, 2020
Sindh High Court directs police to not arrest Ali Azhar
As per the order of the Sindh High Court, the SHO (Station House Officer) has been directed to not make any arrest and instead provide protection to the forcefully married couple, to prevent harassment. In its verdict, the Court stated that the minor girl had converted to Islam and adopted the name of Arzoo Fathima. The Court ruled that the girl married Ali Azhar out of her ‘free will’ and own accord ‘without duress and fear.’ Earlier, Ali Azhar had provided a fake marriage certificate, which stated that the girl was 18 years old and not a minor.
Also the court order pic.twitter.com/NIyFQWA70V— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) October 29, 2020
Victim’s mother makes an emotional appeal
The girl’s mother, Rita, had earlier pleaded, “In the name of God, please rescue our daughter. We are deeply worried. Please help us. He and his supporters are terrifying us and we are in danger from these people. Please listen to our appeal.” Following Arzoo’s abduction, the parents of the girl ended up losing their jobs and receiving threats from Ali Azhar.
Meanwhile, several Christians and social activists staged a protest outside the Karachi Press Club on October 24, demanding the enforcement of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has decided to provide legal and paralegal aid to the victim’s family and take care of their daily expenses.
Rampant religious conversions to Islam in Sindh
Recently, even as the pandemic was sweeping through Pakistan, a Hindu family in Karachi was attacked amidst coronavirus lockdown in Pakistan on April 12, 2020, for refusing to embrace Islam. The case is from PIA township in Karachi where a Maulvi named Usman teamed up with the Hindu family’s neighbour named Shahid to assault the minorities for their denial to accept Islam.
Before that, radical Islamists and clerics in Pakistan demanded the beheading of a Hindu minor girl named Mehak Kumari, who was abducted, converted to Islam and forcibly married to a Muslim man, for leaving Islam. Mehak was abducted from the Jacobabad district of Sindh province in Pakistan on January 15. In a video going viral on Twitter, few radical Islamists and clerics of Pakistan are heard blaming 14-year-old Mehak of murtad, or an act of Apostasy, and are demanding death punishment, accusing her of insulting Islam.