12/03/2019, 15.06
PAKISTAN
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A 14-year-old Christian girl is kidnapped and converted in Karachi. Her parents appeal to the Court of Justice

by Shafique Khokhar

Huma Younus went missing from her home on 10 October. She was taken 600 km from her home city. Her abjuration was recorded on the same day of her kidnapping. Justice and Peace Commission backs the family’s legal case.

Karachi (AsiaNews) – A 14-year-old Christian girl from Zia Colony, Karachi, was kidnapped, forcibly converted and married off to a Muslim man.

Her family is trying everything to safely get their daughter back. The parents have rejected as phoney the conversion papers presented by the kidnappers. As a result, they have filed an appeal to the Court of Justice in Sindh Province.

Huma Younus was taken on 10 October, but her case came under the spotlight only recently. The three men who abducted her waited until her parents were out of the house to seize the girl.

Her father, Younus Masih, works as an electrician. Her mother, Nagina, laments that police refused to accept their initial complaint, and filed the case only on 12 October after refusing several times.

After a few days the family received Huma’s conversion papers and marriage certificate to a Muslim man called Abdul Jabar.

For the girl’s mother, the papers are fake because the date of her alleged conversion is the same as the day of her abduction. "It is not possible,” she insists.

The place where Huma was taken, Dera Gazi Khan, is about 600 km from Karachi. "It is too far away,” she explains. “It takes several hours to reach it. For us, the papers are fake. We want the court to intervene.”

Huma’s parents say that their daughter was supposed to appear before the court for the scheduled hearing on 11 November, but she failed to show up. They are concerned: “We don't even know if she's still alive."

Father Saleh Diego, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi and director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), slammed the kidnapping, reiterating his full support for the victim's family forced into such a legal process.

The clergyman wants the government and the courts to "prevent such deeds" and "ensure those responsible are brought to justice as soon as possible".

Yesterday, members of the NCJP, along with members of other civil society organisations and Pakistan’s Christian communities, staged a peaceful protest in front of the Karachi Press Club.

They urgently call on the government to intervene in Huma’s case. NCJP coordinator Kashif Anthony condemned the practice in this and “all other cases of forced conversion and marriage of minors from religious minorities."

For Tabasum, a Christian lawyer, "the case offends the religious sentiments of the Christian community. These sacrilegious acts are against the concept of interfaith harmony and threaten society’s multicultural fabric and sense of brotherhood. Minorities feel deeply wounded.”

Sardar Ramesh Singh, head of the Pakistani Sikh Council, agrees. "I strongly condemn this act. The Sikh community offers its solidarity. Why are minority girls kidnapped and converted? This is against the Constitution of Pakistan.”

Abducting for the purpose of forced conversion and marriage is a major issue in Pakistan. Most of the victims are Christian and Hindu girls and young women, forced to wed against their will to much older Muslim men.

According to the Centre for Social Justice, at least 159 cases were reported between 2013 and 2019. Some 16 girls and young women have gone before the Sindh High Court asking for support against their forced marriages.

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