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Shame on Pakistan: Sharia overules the law

ACN International (04.02.2020) – http://bit.ly/31Or0bt – “Once again justice has been defeated and once again our State has shown itself unable to treat Christians as Pakistani citizens,” said a distraught Nagheena Younus, speaking to Aid to the Church in Need-Italy (ACN-Italy) after this morning’s hearing (11 am local time) involving her daughter Huma before the Sindh High Court in Karachi.

 

The two presiding High Court Justices, Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah, ruled that even if Huma were a minor, the marriage between the Christian girl and her kidnapper Abdul Jabbar would still be valid because, under Islamic law (Sharia), once a girl of any age has had her first period, she can marry. Therefore, the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, which was adopted in 2014 but never enforced, is of no consequence. “We hoped that the law could have been applied for the first time in this case,” said lawyer Tabassum Yousaf, “but evidently in Pakistan these laws are formulated and approved only to improve the image of the country in front of the international community, ask for development funds and freely trade Pakistani products on the European market.”

 

The parents of the 14-year-old Catholic girl kidnapped on 10 October and, more broadly, the Christian community had high expectations about today’s hearing. Huma was due to appear in court in accordance with the request made to the investigating officer Akhtar Hussain by the High Court justices in the previous hearing on 16 January. When asked about the girl’s absence, the latter simply said that the young woman had been summoned per regulation. Since the start of this case, Hussain has maintained an ambiguous attitude, raising strong suspicions of collusion with the kidnapper Jabbar.

 

Despite this, the justices instructed the policeman to have Huma examined so as to determine her age, which her lawyer Yousaf asked for again this morning. “It is clear that since Hussain has been put in charge there is a high probability that the test results will be falsified,” said the lawyer. “But we keep hoping that the girl being underage will be proven so that she could at least be placed in women’s shelter, and removed from her rapist.”

 

The next hearing is scheduled for 4 March, but unfortunately, even if it is proven that Huma is a minor, the justices’ decision to deem the marriage valid, eliminates any possibility that Jabbar will be punished for the offences of abduction and forced marriage.

Aid to the Church in Need-Italy continues to support Huma’s family and lawyer.





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Pakistani archbishop condemns kidnapping and forced conversions of under-age Christian girls

ACN (26.09.2019) – https://bit.ly/2ncFlyp – A surge in the number of under-age Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan being kidnapped, raped and forced to marry a Muslim and convert to Islam has been condemned by one of the country’s leading bishops.

 

In an interview with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore confirmed reports of abductions involving girls as young as 14—acts he condemned as “a crime. ”His comments come as research in Pakistan’s Punjab province found that up to 700 girls had been abducted in one year. He said: “Yes, [abductions of under-age girls] are happening” and he added that “there have been many kidnappings recently.” He continued: “Kidnapping is a crime. It has to be treated as one. This is the only way to stop it. The girls are usually 14, 15. The men often already have one wife. They can be 25 or older. They can also be younger, more like 20.”

 

He believed there was a religious aspect to the kidnappings, particularly as the girls are Hindu or Christian. Yet, the archbishop did not believe it was the only explanation. “It is lust. They think ‘she is pretty and I want her.’ It is a crime and it has a possible religious component too.”

 

(…)

 

Aid to the Church in Need funded 61 projects in Pakistan in 2018, including the construction of churches, training of religious and the formation of laity. Projects totaled almost $800,000.

 

—Fionn Shiner


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