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Child marriage of kidnapped Christian girl to Muslim man nullified in Pakistan

A Pakistani high court has declared the marriage of thirteen-year-old Christian Arzoo Raja to forty-four-year-old Muslim Azhar Ali to be invalid. This decision overturns a previous court decision that declared the marriage as legal.


On the 13th of October, Raja was kidnapped by Azhar from her home and forced to marry him. She signed papers saying that she had willingly converted to Islam and married Azhar. She most likely did so while facing threats, sexual violence and torture.

After a reversal of the court’s original ruling, the Sindh High Court board of medical experts verified that Raja was no more than fourteen years old, International Christian Concern (ICC) reported.

“Raja’s case is definitely heading in the right direction,” ICC’s South Asia Regional Manager, Will Stark, explained. “We’ve all agreed that Raja is a minor. The marriage to Azhar is both null, void and illegal under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act.”

Police have arrested Azhar along with the Muslim cleric who signed the marriage certificate for breaking the law. For now, the government is holding Raja at a shelter home.

Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights and the governor of Sindh Province have both spoken out against Raja’s child marriage, so it’s unlikely enough political will exists to overturn her case, Stark said.

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