World News

Christian girl aged thirteen abducted in Pakistan

A Muslim man threatened a Christian father with kidnapping his daughter to be his 28-year-old son's bride. Two months later the young man kidnapped the teenage girl.

Shakeel Masih confirmed that Muazzam Mazhar’s father, Mazhar Abbas, phoned him from Saudi Arabia two months ago and requested Roshni’s hand in marriage for his unemployed son: “He told me, ‘ You have a beautiful daughter, and it would be better for you to give her to my son yourself—there’s nothing you ‘Chuhras‘ can do to stop us from taking her.'” Chuhra is a derogatory term used for Christians in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Masih, the 33-year-old Christian father, assured Abbas that he would never agree to marry his daughter to a Muslim man even if she was of legal age. Masih stated: “I stopped taking Abbas’s phone calls after that, and this offended him to the extent that he encouraged his son to abduct Roshni and forcibly marry her.”

Following the abduction, a local Muslim man told Masih that he should surrender hope of finding his daughter because she had converted to Islam and married Muazzam Mazhar. When Masih filed a missing person’s claim at the local police station, he was advised that Roshni had appeared at sessions court that day and recorded a statement, apparently under severe coercion.

Masih stated: “On March 15, Bilal Hatim told me that he had information that Roshni had converted and married Mazhar of her own will. He said that instead of wasting money to find her, I should consider reaching a settlement with the accused’s family to protect my honour. I turned down his offer, saying that I wanted my daughter back at all costs, even if it meant putting my honour at stake. Roshni’s just a child, and I love her with all my heart. How can I forsake my own flesh and blood? We were only verbally informed by the police about Roshni’s statement in court. To date, I have not formally received any document regarding her conversion and marriage. I only know that they have shown her to be 18 years old in the marriage certificate that was allegedly documented on March 11, two days before she was taken. The accused used to force my daughter to befriend him, but she turned down his offers and brought the matter to my notice. I complained about his lecherous behaviour several times, but instead of stopping him, his family encouraged him to continue with his evil actions.”

Masih expressed his disillusionment with the legal system, which does not protect vulnerable youngsters from forcible conversions. In his desperation, he sold household items, including his phone and his brother’s motorbike, to raise funds to find his daughter: “I’m determined to bring my daughter back no matter what happens. The high court will take up my petition on March 25, and I’m hoping that the judge will allow us a meeting with our daughter. We haven’t seen her since the time she was taken, and my wife and I are certain that she will be encouraged to change her statement when she’s not under the influence of the accused and the police.”

According to human rights activist Joseph Jansen, authorities in Pakistan fail to enforce laws that protect Christian minors despite the legal framework provided by the Child Marriage Restraint Act: “This reluctance has emboldened perpetrators to continue their heinous crimes under the guise of Islamic marriage and conversion. Without legislation specifically addressing forced faith conversions and adequate enforcement of the existing domestic laws, these harmful practices will persist.”


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