11/03/2023, 17.19
Send to a friend

A Christian Father turns to Lahore High Court to save his kidnapped daughter who was converted to Islam

by Shafique Khokhar

In Pakistan, those who kidnap Christian or Hindu girls and young women to convert and forcibly marry them are increasingly using counter-suits to slow down the courts and weaken the thirst for justice of the victims' families.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christian and Hindu girls and young women continue to be subjected to abductions, forced conversions to Islam and forced marriages in Pakistan.

On 28 October, Aftab Joseph, father of Samreen Aftab, filed a petition with the Lahore High Court, again demanding justice for his abducted daughter.

Samreen, an underage Christian girl, was kidnapped earlier this year, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to her captor, Muhammad Amir.

She now goes by the name of Kaneez Fatima, and Amir's family issued a statement in which the girl declares that she is happy with her marriage and conversion, adding that she made these choices of her own free will. However, this is said to have been made under duress.

Her father, a schoolteacher employed at an orphanage, and her mother, Ishrat, who works as a domestic worker, have not given up and are demanding justice.

The kidnapper, Muhammad Amir, comes from an influential family of the Raja caste. In addition to Samreen’s kidnapping, he is wanted by the police for his alleged involvement in the burning of some churches on 16 August 2023 in Jaranwala.

The Joseph family, already struggling with extreme poverty and economic hardship, has also had to face the hostility and harassment by several groups of local Muslim extremists.

What is more, Amir's family has filed a counter-suit against Samreen's father, Aftab Joseph, alleging that he tried to kidnap his own daughter from her husband. This false claim was filed to deter the father from pursuing justice and recovering the girl.

Joseph Jansen, president of Voice for Justice, expressed deep concern about the counter-suit ploy that kidnappers are adopting since “it obstructs justice for vulnerable victims and allows the real culprits to escape accountability.”

Jansen also noted that under the law in Pakistan, girls can only marry after they turn 16 or 18, depending on their province.

However, by converting a girl to Islam, Sharia law is applied in court, which allows girls to marry at a very young age, sometimes as young as nine years of age.

Girls and young women summoned to court to testify about their willingness to convert and marry often remain in the custody of their captors, making it hard for them to speak freely.

Kidnappers typically resort to threats to force the victims and their families to make statements in favour of their captors.

Meanwhile, human rights groups are shedding light on this troubling reality, and it is becoming clear that the frequency of abductions of Christian and Hindu girls and young women in Pakistan is increasing at an alarming rate.

About a thousand girls and young women are taken from their families and communities each year, victims of rape, as well as forced conversion to Islam and marriage with Muslim men.

“The actual number of such abductions may be even more significant than reported,” Jansen noted.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
A 12-year-old Christian girl abducted by a Muslim in Sahiwal
11/11/2021 13:32
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28
Synod for the Amazon: Card Stella hails the ‘great beauty’ of celibacy in a priest’s life
24/10/2019 17:56
Christian women in Pakistan forcibly converted to Islam and married off to their kidnappers
26/02/2016 16:22
Kidnapped for forced marriage, 15-year-old Christian girl from Faisalabad is freed
16/06/2022 13:52


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”