The officials have that a 13-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan who was allegedly abducted and forced to convert and marry a Muslim man has been rescued. The girl’s retrieval came nearly a month after the girl’s parents alleged that Ali Azhar, 44 abducted her. Her alleged abductor was arrested later the same night and is due to appear in court on Tuesday.
The courts had not been up to snuff to act prior because they gave a positive response to the girl’s statements – saying she was 18 and had married of her own free will. However, hassle and strain from campaign groups and a public chorus of disapproval brought about action. Leaders from the Catholic Church in Pakistan and human rights groups necessitated that the court ruling is gone back over, contending that the girl had been coerced to give her statement after entering a child marriage. Protesters also took to the streets in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
On Monday, the Sindh High Court ordered police to find the teenager. She was recovered later in the day and will remain in protective custody until a court hearing on 5 November.
Harassment Petition filed on behalf of Arzoo by her abductors which was originally fixed for 11th Nov has now been fixed for Monday 2nd Nov on urgent basis. Will be representing Parents & will seek court to provide custody of Arzoo to parents and conduct medical examination asap pic.twitter.com/AP3nWEyr2e
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) October 31, 2020
The girl’s family first filed her missing report on 13 October. Two days later, as per the Christian Organization, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (Claas), her father was told that Mr. Ali had produced a marriage certificate showing that she was 18 and had converted to Islam.
The family claimed the identification papers were fake. However, when the case went to court on 27 October, the Sindh High Court granted custody to the girl’s alleged abductor. The court also offered protection from the girl’s family.
Human rights and religious groups expressed disapproval of the decision. “It is the responsibility of the state to… protect its citizens, especially minor girls,” Joseph Arshad, a local archbishop, told news outlet Crux Now at the time.
Father Saleh Diego, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi, also addressed the affair of strained conversions, asserting to the Catholic News Agency that “a 13-year-old cannot decide about her religion. She is an innocent girl… [she] still has a lot to learn about her own religion.”