07/25/2011, 00.00
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The drama of Farah Hatim, common to many women in Pakistan

by Jibran Khan
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.
Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Farah Hatim, a Christian woman of 24, resident in Yar Khan in southern Punjab, was abducted on 8 May by Zeehan Ilyas and his brothers Umran and Gulfam and was forced to convert and marry her kidnapper, The Catholic Church and human rights organizations have condemned the act and demanded action against this violation of human rights. The Justice and Peace Commission brought the case to court, and since then the police has been constantly threatening the girl's family. Judge Khawaja Mir has transferred the case to the Supreme Court, because of the sensitivity of the matter. The appeal to the Supreme Court was presented by the Commission for Justice and Peace and the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA). The Supreme Court has asked the Bawalphur District Police Chief Rahim Yar Khan and families to appear in court July 20.

The judge asked if Farah Hatim was kidnapped, or went with Zeehan Ilyas of her own accord, and after some minutes of silence she replied: "Of my own will." After a few more questions, the judge announced that Farah should remain with her new family. Farah Hatim burst into tears when the Court announced its decision. Farah Hatim was granted a few minutes to meet her old family. Farah's brother said: "I am shocked by what Farah said in court. She was threatened, and all hope that she could return is gone. Why us? Why do we have to deal with it? Just because we are Christians? ".

According to the Committee for Justice and Peace, "Farah has become a victim of the prostitution racket. Zeeshan Iiyas tried to push her into prostitution when she was still a student at Sheikh Zaid Medical College, Rahim Yar Khan, but she refused. Zeehan Iiyas then took revenge. The current decision on Farah is possible because she is pregnant, and she fears that her family will be killed if she tries to return, and even if she had chosen the courageous path to return, she would not be accepted by society because she was kidnapped and raped. Fear of rejection is also a possible reason for her statements. " The Justice and Peace Commission reports that "thousands of girls from minority communities are kidnapped and forced to marry. We are fighting against the cancer of abductions and forced marriages. "

Hatim's family, has made desperate appeals to higher authorities, urging action, or laws against forced marriages and forced conversions. "We do not want this to happen to any other girl. We lost our sister, and our pain is great. We are targeted because we are a minority, so we ask the government not to abandon minorities," appealed, Farhi’s elder brother, in tears, outside the courthouse.

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