by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Pakistan’s Lahore High Court (LHC) has sent a 14-year-old Christian girl back into the custody of a Muslim man who abducted her and who claims she willingly converted to Islam and married him, Morning Star News (MSN) reports.
Pakistan ranks number one in the world for forced marriages, with around 1,000 Christian girls forced into marriage with Muslims from November 2019 to October 2020, according to the rights group US Open Doors.
Fourteen-year-old Chashman Masih had been reported missing by her father Gulzar Masih, a rickshaw driver from Faisalabad, MSN said. According to Masih, the police did find his daughter, but then refused to bring her home: the police said Chashman had converted to Islam and had married a Muslim man named Muhammad Usman.
Rejecting her family’s court petition for Chashman’s return to them, the Lahore Court ruled on September 23 that Islam ascribes more importance to mental capacity than to age in these cases: the court determined that Chashman had willingly embraced Islam and marriage to Usman.
Rights groups have reported that Christian girls in Pakistan who are abducted and forced into marriage are often threatened that they or their family will be murdered unless they testify in court that they willingly converted and married, MSN said.
Pakistan ranks 5 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2021 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. In particular, Open Doors reports on its website: “Christian girls are at risk of abduction and rape, and are often forced to marry their attackers and coerced into converting to Islam.”