A 14-year-old Christian girl, who was ordered by a court to return to the Muslim man who had abducted her at gunpoint and forcibly married and converted her to Islam, has escaped for her life and is in hiding in Pakistan’s Faisalabad area.
Catholic teenager Maira Shahbaz, was in tears after a judge ordered her to return to the Muslim man who abducted her at gunpoint during the COVID-19 lockdown and forcibly married and converted her to Islam.
Maira fled the home of her alleged husband, Mohamad Nakash, weeks after the Lahore High Court ruled that Shahbaz was legally married to her abductor and ordered her to be returned to his custody, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.
Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi of Lahore High Court ruled earlier last month that she must return to the home of the married man who kidnapped her, and who the judge referred to as her “husband,” on the basis that she had converted to Islam.
This decision, made on August 4, overturned an earlier order by the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court placing Shahbaz in a women’s shelter.
On April 28, 2020, Shahbaz was abducted at gunpoint by Mohamad Nakash and two accomplices while walking home in Madina Town, near Faisalabad. According to witnesses, the abductors forced Shahbaz into a car and fired gunshots into the air as they fled the scene.
“With this ruling, no Christian girl in Pakistan is safe,” a family friend and advocate, Lala Robin Daniel, was quoted as saying at the time.
“The order is unprecedented and will likely mean Maria will never return to her family,” Shazia George, a Pakistani human rights activist, told ICC after the ruling.
“The decision to make a child bride stay with her abductor will add more misery to the case. Courts must ensure that the victims of forced conversion and child marriage are able to have their statements recorded without any duress or threat so perpetrators are brought to justice.”
According to a 2014 study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian community are abducted, forcibly married to their captor, and forcibly converted to Islam every year.
Pakistan ranks fifth on Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Please Pray For The Safety of Maira Shahbaz and Many Other Pakistani Women and Girls Going Through This Same Trouble.