- 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.
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".
episode involves a 16-year-old girl, Samariya Nadeem (Masih), who was abducted and
forcibly married to a rich landowner.
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.
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".
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.
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
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."
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
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
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
ethnic and religious minorities is commonplace across the country, with Shia
Muslims and Christians as the main target, with things getting worse.
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.