Parents shocked by judges' comments in Pakistan child bride case

Justices say marriage of 'abducted' Catholic girl is valid under Sharia law if she has had her first period
Parents shocked by judges' comments in Pakistan child bride case

Huma Younus was allegedly abducted from her home, taken to neighboring Punjab province, converted to Islam and forced to marry her Muslim captor. (Photo supplied)

Parents of a teenage Pakistani Catholic girl have expressed their shock after judges said the forced marriage of their underage daughter was valid under Sharia law.

Huma Younus, 14, a resident of Karachi’s Zia Colony, was allegedly abducted from her home, taken to neighboring Punjab province, converted to Islam and forced to marry her Muslim captor.

Huma’s parents filed a petition with Sindh High Court seeking annulment of the marriage under the Child Marriage Restraint Act. The matter was heard by a two-member bench on Feb. 3.

Justices Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah, hearing the petition, observed that the marriage between Huma and her alleged abductor, Abdul Jabbar, would be considered valid under Islamic Sharia law if she had already had her first menstrual cycle.

The court gave the police more time to determine the age of the Catholic girl and adjourned the hearing until March 4.

“We were expecting to see our daughter at the court hearing. We haven’t seen her since her abduction on Oct. 14. We also hoped that the honorable court would deliver justice and hand us the custody of our daughter,” Younus Masih, the girl's father, told UCA News.

“We also provided documentary evidence including a Catholic baptismal certificate and testimony from her school purporting to show she is 14 years old, born on May 22, 2005.

“We were in a state of shock when the judges did not consider our evidence and referred to Sharia law to justify the marriage.” 

Nagina, the girl's mother, said there is no justice for minorities in Pakistan, where they are not treated equally. “It really broke my heart after hearing the judges' remarks,” she said.

Father Saleh Diego, vicar general of Karachi Archdiocese and director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, noted that abductions and forced marriages involving minority girls were well documented by independent rights groups.

“A few months back, even Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the abduction of two Hindu minors in Sindh,” he said.

Tabassum Yusuf, Huma’s lawyer, is still hopeful for justice from the high court. “We will approach the Supreme Court if the need arises and go to any length to receive justice,” she said.

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