by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A High Court in Pakistan has finally returned a 14-year-old Christian girl to the custody of her family after she was abducted and forced to marry a Muslim man in 2020, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
An estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities are kidnapped by Islamists and forced to marry their captors every year.
Arzoo Raja was abducted from her home in Karchi on October 13, 2020, and was forced to marry Ali Azhar, a 44-year-old Muslim man, ICC said. When Raja’s parents reported her missing, police claimed that Azhar had produced a marriage certificate stating she was 18 years old. Azhar also told police Raja had willingly converted to Islam.
Raja’s parents filed suit in the Sindh High Court, alleging that the marriage was a violation of the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, ICC reports. However, the Court ruled that the marriage was valid under Sharia law, which permits underage marriage.
However, Raja herself was subsequently able to submit an application to return to her parents, ICC reports. She was then forced to live in a shelter for a year while the court considered the matter. Finally, on December 22, the Sindh High Court issued an order to allow Raja to go home to her family.
In a statement to Morning Star News, Attorney Jabran Nasir, who represented the family said: “Our case was for the girl’s recovery, which has been granted.”
Pakistan ranks 5 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2021 of the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to be Christian.