04/05/2019, 09.45
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Pakistan: Christian girl kidnapped, raped, converted and sold as a bride

Shalet Javed had left home after a fight with a brother. A lady admitted to selling it to a human trafficker. Wilson Chowdhry, Christian activist: "At least 700 Christian girls are in the same situation".

Islamabad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A 15-year-old Christian girl has been kidnapped, sold and given in marriage to a Muslim man after being forcibly converted. The young woman is called Shalet Javed and comes from a very poor family in Pakistan.

Her story came to light thanks to the British Pakistani Christian Association (Bpca), which follows the case and is helping the family get their daughter back home. Wilson Chowdhry, president of the association, denounces: "It is the umpteenth shameful case of kidnapping, rape and forced marriage to be put on the list".

The story of the 15 year old Shalet dates back to March 25th. She lives in the village of Dhandra, in the district of Faisalabad. After a fight with one of her siblings, she left her home and sought refuge from a family friend, Ms. Goshi, 36, who she regards as an aunt, living in Salam Pura. In the evening, when her mother Tasleem (35 years old) returned home and did not find her daughter, she launched searches. Goshi denies ever having met the young woman, but faced with Tasleem's insistence that she would report everything to the police, she admits that the girl is in the company of another lady named Rukhsana (42).

The family tried in vain for three days to file a complaint, but found only the wall of silence by the police, which instead of starting the investigation, suggested that Shalet ran away from home with someone. After three days, the agents arrested Ms. Rukhsana who confessesed that she sold the young Christian to a 28-year-old Muslim man, Rafel, known to the authorities for trafficking in women. The following week, the family received a letter containing the wedding certificate (Nikkah) of the daughter with a Muslim named Zafar Iqbal. The agents arrested Rukhsana and Rafel, but then released them on bail.

Wilson Chowdhry disputes the attitude of "the police who did not immediately register the complaint. This is the poor demonstration of corruption in the Pakistan police force. What is even worse is that the only two people involved in the case of sexual violence have been released on bail ".

In Pakistan the phenomenon of kidnappings and forced conversions is a plague that afflicts the country. Civil society has recently protested over the abduction of two Hindu sisters, but the cases persist and do not seem to be diminishing. According to Chowdhry, "about 700 Christian girls are trapped in this barbaric tradition, desired by Muslim men who are attracted to younger women. They know it's against the law, but they go unpunished thanks to Sharia ”. Some "rogue imams - he adds - promise a special place in paradise for those who carry out forced conversions in this way".

Shalet's parents are desperate and don't know how to bring the young woman home. The father of the family does not work because of a bone marrow injury, and the other six brothers and sisters help as much as they can. Mother Tasleem torments herself: "My daughter will be terrified and worried. Her innocence is being lost because of a cruel man. My heart is broken, but I continue to trust God. Only He can give me back my child."

(Photo credit: British Pakistani Christian Association)

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