According to Morning Star News, a 14-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan was abducted, forcefully converted to Islam, and forcefully married to her 45-year-old Muslim neighbor. The girl’s parents are now attempting to work with local authorities to have their daughter recovered and returned.
On January 4, Mahnoor Ashraf went missing shortly after she left home with her 8-year-old nephew in Lahore. According to her nephew, Mahnoor was abducted by Muhammad Ali Khan Ghauri, a 45-year-old Muslim neighbor, as they walked to a nearby shop.
Mahnoor’s nephew reported to incident to Mahnoor’s parents who rushed to Ghauri’s house to recover their daughter. When Mahnoor and Ghauri could not be found, they reported the abduction to local police.
On January 5, Mahnoor’s parents registered a First Information Report (FIR no. 58/22) against Ghauri. However, the investigating officer was slow to act on the case, Morning Star News reports.
“Finally, on January 7, Ghauri’s family informed us that Mahnoor had allegedly converted to Islam and married Ghauri on January 4, the day she was taken,” Akram Masih Chaudhry, Mahnoor’s older brother, told Morning Star News. “Ghauri’s house is on the same street, and our families had good terms with each other. We don’t know when he managed to lure Mahnoor into a relationship.”
Mahnoor’s father filed charges against Ghauri for forcibly converting and illegally marrying Mahnoor, who is a minor. However, the Islamic marriage certificate used to document Mahnoor’s marriage to Ghauri states that she is 19, even though her birth certificate proves she was born in 2007.
Morning Star News reports that police have yet to recover Mahnoor and the Christian family is losing confidence that they will receive fair treatment in the case.
According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year in Pakistan.
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. Violence, threats, and grooming tactics are used to compel victims to make statements in court supporting their captors.
The issue of religion is also often injected into these cases to place religious minorities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing the element of religion.
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