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  • » 02/06/2014, 00.00

    PAKISTAN


    Christian girl abducted, converted and forced to marry a Muslim in Lahore

    Jibran Khan

    The family of Samariya Nadeem staged a protest this morning in front of the city's press club. For the past three weeks, their 16-year-old daughter has been in the hands of a wealthy landowner. As police and the authorities fail to free her, the Catholic Church calls for justice on the family's behalf. But for Muslim cleric, it is "not illegal to abduct and convert non-Muslims".

    Lahore (AsiaNews) - After a Pakistani Christian girl from Punjab was abducted by a Muslim landowner, she was forced to marry him after conversion to Islam. Her family reacted in a public protest, demanding justice from civil authorities.

    Police and the courts have failed so far to act and return the girl to her parents. The local Catholic Church has instead backed the family, condemning the "widespread practice" of kidnapping young Christian and Hindu women to marry them forcibly to Muslims and reduce them to a "state of slavery".

    The latest episode involves a 16-year-old girl, Samariya Nadeem (Masih), who was abducted and forcibly married to a rich landowner.

    The abduction took place 22 days ago in 270-TDA Layyah District when the young woman was on her way to school.

    The family filed a complaint (First Information Report 14/14, under Section 365 B of the Penal Code) with the police for the abduction reporting that Samariya was taken against her will and forced to marry the man.

    So far, police have failed to pursue any legal action against the local wealthy Muslim landowner who abducted the girl because of the influence he wields. Police investigators were also unable to talk to the bruised and terrified victim.

    Anonymous police sources confirmed that the girl was "abducted" and forced to marry. However, an Islamic cleric involved in the affair said that it was "not illegal to abduct and convert non-Muslims".

    This morning, the family organised a protest rally in front of the Lahore Press Club. Under Pakistani law, no one underage can be married without parental consent.

    Civil society groups and human rights activists have appealed to Punjab's chief minister to take action and return Samariya to her parents and bring her abductor to justice.

    Kidnapping and forced marriage have become a major issue in Pakistan, especially in southern Punjab and in the interior of Sindh province.

    This is "very common in the region," said Fr Haroon James, a priest and activist in Lahore. Young women and girls "are forcefully converted and married to influential landlords who keep them as slaves."

    Unfortunately, people seem to be increasingly "hopeless". For this reason, the Church has spoken out in the case, "demanding justice for her and the family." Yet, "Despite the fact that a FIR has been registered, the authorities have failed to act and protect the vulnerable," the priest added.

    With a population of more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, the second largest Muslim nation after Indonesia.

    About 80 per cent of Muslims are Sunni, whilst Shias are 20 per cent. Hindus are 1.85 per cent, followed by Christians (1.6 per cent) and Sikhs (0.04 per cent).

    Violence against ethnic and religious minorities is commonplace across the country, with Shia Muslims and Christians as the main target, with things getting worse.

    Dozens incidents of violence have occurred in recent years, against individuals or entire communities, like in Gojra in 2009 or Joseph Colony in Lahore in March 2013, often perpetrated under the pretext of the country's blasphemy laws.

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    See also

    13/04/2012 PAKISTAN
    Lahore: Christians and Hindus against "religious fascism" and forced conversions to Islam
    Young Christian and Hindu women are being abducted, forcibly converted and married off against their will. Young Christian men and boys are being forcibly circumcised. Young Hindu men are jailed for befriending young Muslim women. In the past five years, between 400 and 500 Christians have been forced to convert to Islam.

    26/02/2016 16:22:00 PAKISTAN
    Christian women in Pakistan forcibly converted to Islam and married off to their kidnappers

    Tahira, 21, and Reema Bibi, 20, were abducted near their home last December. The Muslim men who took them, raped them and forcibly married them, and then kept them segregated. At least 1,000 Christian women are forcibly converted in Pakistan each year. If they escape, the police arrests a family member.



    07/02/2017 17:39:00 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan soon to outlaw mob violence and forced conversions of minorities

    Pakistan’s parliament passes law that punishes sectarianism, lynching and false accusations that lead to wrongful convictions. Now the bill awaits the president’s approval. Christian activist praises the effort to curb terrorism. Leader of an Islamist group defends the blasphemy law.



    28/03/2012 PAKISTAN
    Hindu girl tells Supreme Court she would rather die than convert to Islam
    Seized by an influential Muslim, with the "political cover" of an elected official, 19 year old Rinkel Kumari launches a desperate appeal to the courts. “Justice is denied Hindus in Pakistan” and therefore asks to" kill me here "in the courtroom. The family, after reporting to police, forced to leave the village in Sindh. Each year there are 300 forced marriages and conversions

    25/07/2011 PAKISTAN
    The drama of Farah Hatim, common to many women in Pakistan
    A 24 year old Christian kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper. In court later she says it was voluntarily, to protect her family. Hundreds of similar cases occur every year in Pakistan, denounced by the commission for Justice and Peace.



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