Another Christian Girl in Pakistan Kidnapped, Forcibly Converted
Johnson Masih and his wife Samina were shocked when police in Lahore, Pakistan told them their 13-year-old daughter, missing since Feb. 19, had converted to Islam and married a Muslim.
A few days after registering a missing person report with police on Feb. 21, the investigating officer summoned them to the police station and showed them a Nikahnama (Islamic marriage certificate) issued by a cleric from Okara District, said Masih, a member of the Church of Pakistan.
“He said that Shakaina was now a married Muslim woman and did not want to return to her family,” told Masih. “According to the Nikahnama, her so-called husband’s name is Ali Bashir. We haven’t heard this name before. Shakaina is just a kid. She was kidnapped and taken to Okara, where they forcibly converted her and conducted the fake marriage to give it a religious cover.”
Their daughter had worked with her mother as domestic help at bungalows in Lahore’s Valencia Town locality. When Samina Masih went to pick up Shakaina from a house on Feb. 19, the residents told her the child had already left.
The girl’s mother called her other employers, who all said Shakaina was not there. She then informed her husband, and after they were unable to find her, they went to police.
“The police did not pay heed to our request for registration of an FIR [First Information Report],” Johnson Masih said. “The FIR was finally registered two days later, on Feb 21.”
“It’s been over 20 days that our daughter is in the custody of unknown abductors, yet we haven’t been able to see her,” he told. “We were just handed a photocopy of the Nikahnama and told to approach the court if we wanted to meet her. They also refused to act when we showed them her official birth record, according to which she’s just 13 and five months.”
Attorney Rana Abdul Hameed said he had petitioned the Lahore High Court and filed applications with senior police authorities for Shakaina’s recovery, but that police showed no interest in the case.
“Laws barring underage marriage are in place, but police do not apply them in the cases,” he said. “Moreover, sections related to rape and abduction are also ignored, which enables the perpetrators to obtain bail and walk free from the case. This prejudicial attitude is putting the security of all minority girls at risk and needs to end immediately.”
Masih said: “My family’s shattered, and each passing day adds to our misery. Is there no law or justice for poor Christians like us?”
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