07/06/2022, 13.32
PAKISTAN
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Abducted from her home in Faisalabad, Christian girl forced into marriage

by Shafique Khokhar

Drugged by a friend, the victim was taken away while her parents slept upstairs. The next day she was forced to convert to Islam and marry. Police refused to register the complaint filed by her family. For Human Rights Focus Pakistan, “more than a thousand such incidents occur every year”.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A 15-year-old Christian girl, Meerab Palous, was abducted, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim acquaintance in a latest example of a scourge that affects minorities in Pakistan.

On the evening of 22 June, Meerab was at her home in Muzafar Colony, Faisalabad, with a Muslim friend and neighbour, Gulnaz.

When Meerab's family went to sleep, Gulnaz gave Meerab a glass of water mixed with drugs and sleeping pills. When the Christian girl fell asleep, she called her half-brother Muhammad Asif and they took her away.

Around midnight, when Meerab’s parents realised that their daughter was missing, they began looking for her, going to Gulnaz's home but had no news until some neighbours told them that they had seen Gulnaz, Muhammad and another person loading her into a car unconscious.

At that point Gulnaz's family told his father that Meerab must convert to Islam and marry Muhammad Asif.

The parents turned to the police, who refused to register their complaint, taking for granted that the girl had acted of her own free will.

At that point the parents asked for help from Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) which is following the case.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators went before a Faisalabad court submitting a conversion certificate and a marriage certificate dated 23 June, with the false attestation that Meerab married voluntarily.

The parents challenged the document that claimed that girl was 18 years old when in fact she is under age.

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), said this new case highlights the alarming rise in kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages.

“The government should take serious action to protect Christian and Hindu girls, who are considered an easy target,” he explained.

“According to recent estimates, more than a thousand such incidents occur every year, and most of them are not reported,” he added. “We are with the victim's family and we will do our best to bring justice to them.”

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