02/20/2020, 19.03
PAKISTAN
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Abducted and converted, Christian woman is back with her family but her ‘husband’ wants her

by Shafique Khokhar

The kidnapper belongs to a powerful family, the Nizamani, suspected of drug trafficking with police protection. Most authorities refused to register the complaint by the young woman’s mother. The victim found the courage to speak out, describing how she was treated like a commodity, an object to satisfy someone’s sexual desire, and a servant at home.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – A 17-year-old Pakistani Christian woman was kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper. Now she is back with her family.

Her persecutor raped her every night for four months, made her a slave to household chores and gave her food only once a day. Yet the young woman found the strength to talk about the violence to a judge, who returned her to her family. Now she lives under constant fear of her “husband” who wants to take her again.

He “ruined my life,” said Algeena (not her real name to protect her) speaking to AsiaNews. Because of him “I dropped out of school. May God give me justice and teach a good lesson to such rascals. "

The young woman lives in Sindh province. Her Mother, Maria, was widowed three years ago. She has a humble job and supports three daughters and a son. Now, as a result of fear and because of threats, she has had to keep her daughters locked in the house.

The kidnapper, Shahbaz Nizamani, 25, belongs to a powerful family with friends in the police. Drug dealers and crooks are known to enjoy the protection of local authorities.

The 17-year-old woman was abducted on 21 August after months of teasing, harassment, stalking, and verbal abuse.

Shahbaz sent "love letters" to her home and took advantage of his job as an electrician to visit her. Annoyed by such unsolicited attention, Algeena told her mother about the situation, and the latter reacted by preventing the man from visiting their home again.

Despite her mother’s best efforts, three men seize the young woman in broad daylight, at 12.30, on 21 August, and drove her to the home of Nabi Bakhsh, Shahbaz’s uncle, a well-known drug dealer. A Muslim cleric, Molvi Badar, was already there.

Alerted by neighbours, Maria went with a group of Christians to that house, but the kidnapper's uncle told her to come back the next day. When they returned, Nabi Bakhsh told her that her daughter had converted to Islam and was married.

On the same day Maria went to the police station with the birth certificate showing that her daughter was underage, along with the parish priest and 50 co-religionists. Police Inspector Ameen refused to file the complaint against the Nizamani family. Instead, some of his fellow agents insulted the woman.

Undaunted, she went to see Sindh Police Inspector General, who also turned down her request to file a complaint. Thus, the young woman’s kidnapper remained free.

On 25 December, Christmas day, Algeena managed to take her husband’s mobile phone and call her mother. In tears, she described a life of violence and implored her to save her. On 31 December Maria appealed to the Sindh Criminal Court where a judge ordered Algeena to appear in the court on 2 January.

The young woman, who was shabbily dressed and had lost a lot of weight, told the court that she had refused to convert and get married, but was forced by the cleric, who beat her, and told her that her family would be killed if she refused to become a Muslim.

“I was at the Nizamani house for more than four months. Everything that happened was against my will. I was never given breakfast, given only one meal a day. They kept my stuff separate because I am from a Christian family. They forced me to read the Qurʼān every day.”

“Every night Shahbaz came to me to fulfilled his sexual desires. I was kept as a commodity and had to work all day like a slave. They didn't even give me a warm dress for the winter. They ruined my life.”

“My daughter is frightened,” said Maria. “She lives locked in the house. She stopped going to school. She has lost her dignity. We get threats from the Nizamani family every day. Shahbaz passes our street every day because he wants to kidnap her again.

What is more, “His family got some land in front of our house where we wanted to set up a shop. Now I want to sell my house and move elsewhere, but nobody wants to buy it anymore. I want to save my daughters from these wicked and powerful people.”

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