Zahid Hussain, Karachi
Updated: December 04, 2019 01:32 PM GMT
Huma Younus, 14, made a video statement on social media in which she denied being abducted. (Photo supplied)
Scores of rights activists led by the human rights wing of Pakistan’s Catholic Church staged a protest in the southern port city of Karachi against the alleged forced conversion of a teenage Christian girl.
Huma Younus, 14, a grade eight student, was abducted on Oct. 10 from her Karachi home by a Muslim man named Abdul Jabbar and his two accomplices, according to her parents.
In a video statement uploaded on social media, the girl denied being abducted, saying she went with Jabbar of her own free will.
In a police complaint, her father Younus Masih and her mother Nagina said their daughter was kidnapped and forced to marry Jabbar.
The parents were later told by police that Huma had converted to Islam after going to Dera Ghazi Khan town in Punjab.
Mother Nagina slammed police for failing to investigate the case as per the law, which prohibits child marriage in Sindh province.
“How can it be possible that my daughter was kidnapped and married on the same day in Dera Ghazi Khan, which is more than 600 kilometers from Karachi? It takes a day to get there,” she told ucanews.
“All the documents of her marriage and conversion to Islam are fake.”
Father Younus said he is worried about his daughter’s life. “We request the prime minister, the chief of army staff, the Supreme Court and the chief minister of Sindh to please help us. We are poor and helpless,” he said.
Father Saleh Diego, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi, condemned the “criminal act.”
“We assure our full support to the family in the legal process and request authorities to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NCJP and other rights groups staged a peaceful demonstration at Karachi Press Club on Dec. 3 and asked for justice for Huma and her family.
“We are hopeful the honorable court, government of Sindh and other law enforcement agencies will help and support this family as they had done previously,” Kashif Anthony, a member of the NCJP, told ucanews.
Advocate Tabasum, a Christian lawyer, said the incident had hurt the minority community. “Such acts go against the concept of interfaith harmony and threaten society’s multicultural fabric and sense of brotherhood,” she said.
In its annual report on religious freedom, the NCJP noted that incidents of abduction and forced conversion of girls from religious minorities remained a vital concern.
Quoting a report, it said that in a span of 30 days from March 11 to April 11, 2018, three Christian girls were forcibly converted to Islam and reportedly married to Muslim men. Despite successive demands for legislation against forced conversion, nothing substantial has been done.
Statistics reveal there were 762 cases of forced conversion in Pakistan from 1999 to 2004 and 1,415 cases from 2000 to 2014.