World News

Young Christian girl kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and marry

14-year-old Alina Khalid has been forcefully taken from her home in the Khanna Pul area of Islamabad, Pakistan, on the 24th of June.

Khalid Masih, Alina’s father confirmed that his Muslim neighbour had kidnapped his daughter: “Some neighbors told us that they had seen an unidentified girl outside our house on the day Alina went missing. When we began searching for her, I came to know that Haider Ali, a 27-year-old butcher in our neighbourhood, had planned Alina’s abduction.”

Khalid reported the incident to the police but they did not act immediately: “The FIR [First Information Report] was finally registered late on June 25, giving the accused sufficient time to go into hiding. We came to know about Alina’s conversion and marriage after she recorded her statement in court in which she purportedly claimed that she had changed her faith and married Ali by choice. Alina did not have a phone and never went out of the house alone, so I don’t think she had any direct contact with Ali. He has abducted her with the sole objective of exploiting her sexually. Like all other victims, Alina, too, was forced to do what her abductor said.”

The Punjab Province government submitted the draft of the Punjab Child Marriage Restraint Act to the Punjab Home Department. They proposed to raise the legal age for marriage for both boys and girls to 18 years. The legal age for girls had previously been 16. Anyone who marries a girl or boy younger than 18 or arranges such a marriage — including parents or guardians — would be penalized by 2-3 years in prison and a fine of between 100,000 Pakistani rupees (the equivalent of US$360) and 200,000 rupees (US$720). Local Christians are hopeful that the new bill would provide some protection to vulnerable minors.

Kidnapped girls are often as young as 10-years-old. Their abductors force them to convert to Islam, marry them to much older Muslim men who rape them. They also record false statements, saying that the girls acted by their own free will. Judges typically ignore the evidence in relation to the girls’ ages and give them back to their kidnappers. 


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