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Family of 12-y-o Christian girl held captive by Muslim man in Pakistan fear she’s being forced into Islamic marriage


Reported By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor| Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Read more at https://www.christianpost.com/news/12-year-old-christian-girl-abducted-in-pakistan-by-muslim-man.html/

Pakistan
Christian devotees attend a Palm Sunday service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral church during the government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Lahore on April 5, 2020. | ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images

The family of a 12-year-old Christian girl from Pakistan’s Punjab province who was abducted by a Muslim man earlier this month fears she’s been forcefully converted to Islam and married to her abductor, just as many other girls have been in the past. The girl, identified as Meerab Abbas, has been missing since Nov. 2, although police later arrested two suspects, Asia News reported, adding that she lived with her mother, Farzana, a 45-year-old widow who works as a domestic worker in the Sahiwal area.

Meerab was allegedly abducted by 22-year-old man, identified as Muhammad Daud, a native of Balochistan province. The girl’s family believes the abductor took her to Balochistan to force her to convert to Islam and marry Daud.

A relative of the mother, Cecil George, was quoted as saying that Farzana’s mental health has deteriorated since her daughter’s abduction and she’s has been admitted to a hospital.

“Mareeb is only 12 years old, and she cannot marry,” Zahid Augustine, a pastor in Sahiwal,  was quoted as saying. “The perpetrators commit these crimes in the name of religion. We just want justice.”

A 2014 report by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan estimated that hundreds of women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities are abducted, forcibly married and converted to Islam every year.

“Many victims are minors taken from their families, sexually assaulted, married to an assailant, and held in captivity justified by falsified marriage and conversion documents,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern says. “Violence, threats, and grooming tactics are used to compel victims to make statements in court supporting their captors.”

Religion is often injected into cases of sexual assault to place religious minority victims at a disadvantage, ICC previously reported, adding that perpetrators play upon religious biases to cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.

In September, a court in Punjab province refused to give the custody of a 14-year-old Christian girl, who was allegedly kidnapped, forced to marry and convert to Islam, back to her parents, ruling that mental capacity gives more weight than age in child conversion cases.

The court rejected the petition filed by Gulzar Masih, a Roman Catholic rickshaw driver from Faisalabad city, seeking the regain custody of his daughter, Chashman, from her alleged abductor, Muhammad Usman, Morning Star News reported at the time. The judge, Tariq Nadeem, said in his ruling that Islamic jurists look at mental capacity and not a child’s age for conversion to Islam. “It is a matter of faith. … Hazrat Ali was only 10 when he accepted Islam,” he said, referring to the fourth caliph of Islam.

International watchdog group Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in over 60 countries, ranks Pakistan No. 5 on its 2021 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. Pakistan is also listed by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for tolerating in or engaging in egregious violations of religious freedom.

Spoon in Underwear Saving Girls From Forced Marriage


Being taken abroad for a forced marriage is now so common in the UK that girls are being told to alert airport security to save themselves.

By http://www.clarionproject.org/news/spoon-underwear-saving-girls-forced-marriage

Heathrow Airport, LondonHeathrow Airport, London

Forced marriages are becoming so common in Britain that the government has put the country’s airport workers on watch for signs of the problem among young women and men. A charity for victims of abuse and forced marriages has found a creative way for victims to escape such a fate, one that takes advantage of the fact that the forced marriages rarely happen within the country.

The U.K.-based charity Karma Nirvana is urging victims of forced marriage to put a spoon in their underwear before they go to the airport to be flown off to their family’s homelands to meet their new spouses. The spoon will cause metal detectors at the airport to beep; victims will be taken away from their parents to be searched, giving them one last chance to alert airport authorities that they are being forced into marriage.

Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana’s operations manager, said that tricks like the spoon in the underwear are essential to help victims avoid arranged marriages because it is often impossible for them to safely stand up to their families.

Karma Nirvana gets about 6,500 calls per year from people worried that they are being forced into marriage, though that number is growing as the charity raises awareness about the issue. Last year, Britain’s Foreign Office’s Forced Marriage Unit dealt with about 1,500 cases of forced marriage.

Most forced marriages in Britain occur among residents of South Asian countries, with nearly half the forced marriages documented in Britain among Pakistani families, with Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan among the other most common countries of origin.

The marriages are most common during the summer holidays, when the victims — more than four out of five of whom are girls or young women — will be taken back to their homelands for “vacation,” only to meet a man they may never have seen before who they will be forced to marry.

“The holidays are a really good time for young people to go missing because there is nobody accounting for where they are at school,” Rattu said.

Since Ramadan ended last week, calls have risen again, including one from an 18-year-old who has is pregnant and her family is trying to force her into marriage to conceal it.

The charity is also working with airport officials in Britain to educate them about potential signs of forced marriage, including one-way tickets, travelling during the summer, whether the travellers look uncomfortable and, of course, whether they have spoons in their underwear.

When petrified youngsters call, “If they don’t know exactly when it may happen or if it’s going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,” Rattu said.

“When they go through security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry,” she said.

Refusal to marry can lead to abuse from family members and honor killings, as one woman told reporters that her father warned her that if she tried running away to avoid her marriage, he would find her and kill her.

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