The police fails to intervene, while the families fall into the hands of unscrupulous go betweens. (August 23, 2007)
Faisalabad, Pakistan – Two Christian girls, little more than children, were kidnapped from their families recently, forcibly converted to Islam and then married off to strangers. Both of the kidnaps took place in Faisalabad, the third largest city in Pakistan, and both were completely ignored by the police. The phenomenon is not a new one however, underlined numerous human rights activist, but it is dangerously on the increase.
On August 5 Muhammad Adnan, a Muslim from Zulfiqar colony Faisalabad and his sister kidnapped Zunaira, an eleven years old Christian girl from her home in Warispura. After the kidnap, they forced her to convert to Islam and marry her kidnaper Muhammad.
The small girl’s mother, Abida, told AsiaNews: “When I was roaming in streets in search of my daughter two Muslim men of the area told me that they saw Adnan and his sister taking my daughter”. Abida decided to go to the kidnapper’s house, from which however she is thrown out. Returning home, she was contacted by two men who revealed the kidnappers identity and offer to act as negotiators for her daughters release in exchange for money.
Despite being desperately poor, Abida gives them 12 thousand Rupees (200 Euro): “I didn’t want to inform the police, because my daughter was engaged and I didn’t want my relatives to know. Unfortunately I found out too late that those men who said they would help me only want money: I have sold all I have, but it wasn’t enough and now I am alone”. Abida then turned to the police, but they refused help. The fact that the marriage is invalid given the age of the bride, “is not a matter for the police” said the officers.
In the second case Shumaila Tabussum, (16), was kidnapped from her home on August 16 by a Muslim man Mazher and some other unknown people. They told Shumaila that her father had been seriously injured in an accident and offered to accompany her to the hospital where he had been taken. The girl, without waiting for her mother, got into Mazher’s car: on the way she met two uncles at shouted the news of her father’s accident to them. These made their way to the hospital but found no-one.
Salamat Masih, 37, Shumaila’s father, immediately reported the abduction to the police. He told AsiaNews that he is “very worried because cases such as these are on the increase: Christian girls abducted, forcibly converted and subjected to becoming the wives of complete strangers”.
Khalil Tahir, chairman of a free legal aid organization “Adal Trust” and a well known Christian lawyer confirms this: “the growing number of attacks against Christians is worrying. We try to aid the victim’s families and at the same time help those who are subjected to this violence legally and practically, but the government must intervene with force if this is to be stopped”.
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