A 12-year-old minor Muslim girl was abducted and forcibly married to her abductor in Madina Town area of Faisalabad on February 15.
According to an FIR [First Information Report] registered by minor girl Zohra’s father Munir Ahmed, five persons forcibly entered his house and held the family hostage at gunpoint.
“One of them placed a knife at the throat of my wife. They gave us death threats and dragged Zohra in a car,” he stated in the FIR No. 187/22 registered with the Madina Town Police Station.
The accused have been granted interim bail after Zohra appeared in a court and recorded her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC.
Christian activist Lala Robin Daniel is pursuing the case of the poor family.
“Muneer is a gardener and needs our support. The uncle of Asad, the main accused, is his neighbor. He trapped the minor girl,” Lala Robin told Kross Konnection.
“The SCHO agrees that underage marriages defame the country. The trend will continue due to the crippled court system. The civil judge has agreed to send Zohra to Darul Aman [shelter house],” he added.
The age requirement for marriage is currently 16 in all parts of the country except in the southern province of Sindh, where it is 18 as per the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1990, pledging commitment to protect the rights of children, as well as the elimination of child marriage.
However in 2020, the Sindh High Court in Karachi passed down a ruling that in accordance with Shari‘a law, the underage girls can be married as long as they have had their first menstrual cycle.
The judgement referred to the alleged abduction, forced conversion and marriage of Huma Younus, a Christian girl taken from her home in 2019.
The judges, Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah, ruled that, as per Shari‘a law, even if Huma was a minor, the marriage between her and her alleged abductor, Abdul Jabbar, would be valid as she had already had her first menstrual cycle.
According to human rights organisations, as many as 1,000 Christian, Hindu and Sikh girls are abducted each year. Many of them are forced to convert to Islam, because it is widely believed in Pakistan that marriages under the age of 16 are acceptable under Sharia law if both of those marrying are Muslim.