05/12/2022, 20.03
PAKISTAN
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Young Christian woman kidnapped in Faisalabad to be forced into marriage

by Shafique Khokhar

Aleeza Naeem has been missing since 13 March. An only child, she was allegedly kidnapped by three Muslim men on her way to school. The family filed a complaint with police, but in vain. As in other cases involving minorities, the victim was kidnapped to be forcibly converted to Islam and given in marriage. Rights advocates appeal to the government to pass a bill to ban forced conversions.

 

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Various NGOs, including Human Right Focus Pakistan (HRFP), have appealed to the government for information on the fate of a number of abducted Christian girls, forced to marry Muslim men against their will.

Of particular concern is the case of Aleeza Naeem (pictured) who went missing more than two months ago. So far, neither the police nor the courts have acted against those responsible for her kidnapping.

On 13 March, Aleeza, a 19-year-old student from Faisalabad, was taken by a Muslim named Muhammad Rashid while she was on her way to an educational centre. He and two accomplices, Muhammad Hassan and Muhammad Sarwar, carried out the kidnapping.

The same day, the girl's father, Naeem Akhtar Masih, filed a complaint with police about her abduction. The next day police registered a First Information Report (FIR) naming Muhammad Rashid as the main suspect.

Police tracked the SIM card of young woman’s mobile phone, which the main suspect used in the following days. Since then, the police have done nothing to return the victim to her family.

“Aleeza Naeem is an only child,” her mother Fazeelat Bibi said. “She was born after many prayers and is the only reason for us parents to live.”

Her father says he’ll do anything “to get her back from the hands of her kidnappers" and save her from "sexual abuse, marriage and forced conversion”.

HRFP has been involved in the case for some time, visiting the young woman’s family several times and following the investigation.

Speaking to AsiaNews, HRFP President Naveed Walter said that Aleeza’s is just another case of kidnapping, conversion and forced marriage of young women and girls from religious minorities.

Taking the legal route is the only way to get justice, but police and the courts often engage in “discriminatory behaviour”.

Several weeks have passed, yet “the culprits are still at large. We want to return the young woman to her family and send those responsible behind bars.”

Meanwhile, a bill designed to ban forced conversions languishes with the government, which has done nothing so far to get it adopted.

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