Islamabad [Pakistan], February 24 (ANI): In yet another case a minor was kidnapped and forcibly married to a 60-year-old Muslim man in Pakistan, reported Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights.
Massimo Introvigne said that Sitara Arif was kidnapped on December 15 and it took two months to persuade the police to investigate the case.
Her father, Arif Gill, allowed Arif to accept a job as domestic help for Naila Ambreen, the Muslim principal of a public school in Faisalabad, in Pakistan's Punjab.
Arif was physically handicapped and unable to provide for his family, which desperately needed money, so he decided to let Sitara work for a Muslim employer.
Notably, stories of girls from religious minorities forcibly converted to Islam and married Muslim men are continuously reported by Pakistani and international media, said Introvigne.
This became true for Arif, when Rana Tayyab, the 60-year-old husband of Ambreen, quickly noticed the beautiful Sitara and decided to take her as his second wife, reported Bitter Winter.
It is unclear whether, as it usually happens in these cases, Sitara was first raped and then told that to escape the shame the only solution for her was to consent to the marriage. She did not return home from work on December 15, and her family later heard that she had converted to Islam and married Rana Tayyab.
Her father and mother started asking the police to investigate, but they were not heard and were even threatened. It was only this month, when the family contacted Akmal Bhatti, a well-known attorney and the chairperson of Minorities Alliance Pakistan, that the police finally registered an FIR (First Information Report) and promised to investigate, reported Bitter Winter.
After Bhatti's intervention, police officers visited Naila Ambreen's residence, but neither her husband nor Sitara was home.
The woman, however, showed to the police a nikah, an Islamic marriage certificate, and confirmed that Rana Tayyab had taken Sitara as his second wife. Marrying a minor is now illegal in Pakistan, but Ambreen told the police that she believes Sitara is 18.
As per Bhatti, the sequence of rape-forced conversion to Islam-forced marriage is a model tragically repeating itself every week. He mentioned several cases of Hindu girls who were victims of this criminal practice in 2023.
The Christian community, which constitutes roughly 1.6 per cent of Pakistan's population, suffers from racism and religious intolerance.
The Muslim majority describe them using derogatory terms such as 'churha' or 'kafir,' which means infidel. A large proportion of the Christian community is from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, poorly educated, and takes up low-paid manual labour such as in brick kilns or the sanitation sector. (ANI)