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Pakistan: Christian Teen Flees into Hiding After Court Returns Her to Custody of Abductor

Persecution of Pakistani Christians: the kidnapping and forced marriage of girls from Christian families in Pakistan is not new; it is a sadly recurring phenomenon. In Maira Shahbaz’s case, we see yet again the aiding and abetting of the persecution of Christians by government officials, a worldwide phenomenon, as a Pakistani court ruled that she had to return to her abductor. Now she has fled. She must now live in fear of being caught and subjected to legal penalties as well as of being returned to her captor.

Pakistan’s Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this persecution as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians. This abuse cries out for attention from international human rights organizations. Please pray that the Christian community in Pakistan will be able to endure this martyrdom and experience a resurrection, and that relief will soon come to this courageous and long-suffering Christian community.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Pakistani Christian Teen Flees into Hiding After Court Returns Her to Custody of Abductor,” International Christian Concern, August 27, 2020:

08/27/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) learned that Maira Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Christian girl who was abducted and forcefully married to a Muslim man, has escaped her abductor’s custody and fled into hiding with her mother and three siblings in Faisalabad, Pakistan. This comes only weeks after the Lahore High Court ruled that Shahbaz was legally married to her abductor and ordered her to be returned to his custody.

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.

Aid to the Church in Need reports that Shahbaz told police she was drugged, raped, and forced to sign blank papers that were later used by Nakash as a marriage certificate and a conversion certificate. Shahbaz also claimed that Nakash filmed her being raped and threatened to release the video online if she resisted.

After the abduction, Shahbaz remained in Nakash’s custody. To justify his custody of Shahbaz, Nakash claims that he and Shahbaz are married and that she has converted to Islam. To support this claim, Nakash produced a marriage certificate stating that Shahbaz is 19 years old. However, the validity of this certificate has been brought into question as the Muslim cleric whose name is listed on the certificate has denied any involvement in the marriage.

Shahbaz’s parents challenged the marriage’s validity in an attempt to have their daughter returned to their custody. As evidence, Shahbaz’s parents presented their daughter’s birth certificate to the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court. This document, supported by other school documents, proves that Shahbaz is a minor, rendering the marriage to Nakash illegal under the Child Marriage Restraint Act.

On July 30, Judge Rana Masood of the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court ordered that Shahbaz be allowed to leave Nakash’s custody and placed in a women’s shelter, known as Dar ul Aman, until the Lahore High Court heard her case. Following this order, police also registered a formal complaint against Nakash and his two accomplices for Shahbaz’s abduction.

On August 4, the ruling of the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court was overturned by Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi of the Lahore High Court. Judge Abbasi reportedly ruled in favor of Nakash because the court found that Shahbaz had converted to Islam. Witnesses in the court claim that Shahbaz was in tears when the ruling was announced….

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