A teen girl rescued from forced marriage in Pakistan
A 13-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan who was allegedly abducted and forced to convert and marry a Muslim man has been rescued, officials said.
The girl’s parents alleged that she was abducted by Ali Azhar, 44.
The girl’s family first reported her missing on 13 October. Two days later, according to Christian Organisation, the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (Claas), her father was informed that Mr. Ali had produced a marriage certificate stating that she was 18 and had converted to Islam.
But then with a birth certificate, the girl’s parents proved that her real age is 13.
The courts had failed to act earlier because they accepted statements the girl gave saying she was 18 and had married of her own free will.
However, leaders from the Catholic Church in Pakistan and human rights groups demanded that the court ruling be reconsidered, arguing that the girl had been forced to give her statement after entering a child marriage. Protesters also took to the streets in Pakistan’s capital, Karachi.
On Monday, the court reversed its position, ordering that girl be taken into protective custody at a women’s shelter until the matter could be conclusively investigated.
Mr. Azhar, 44, will be presented before the Sindh High Court in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on November 5, the child’s parents’ lawyer, Jibran Nasir said.
Even though Pakistani law prohibits child marriage and forcible conversion, nearly 25% of women in their early 20s were married by the time they are 18 in Pakistan, according to a recent United Nations report.