By editor - 24 January, 2020
A 14-year-old Catholic girl from Pakistan is set to make history for being the first alleged victim of abduction, forced marriage and conversion to testify in court. She has been requested to attend the next hearing on Monday 3 February at Sindh province’s High Court. All going as expected, it will be the first time the 2014 Child Marriage Restraint Act (which bans marriage with minors) will have been applied.
In Sindh province in Pakistan, the Christian and Hindu communities are much poorer and of lower social status compared to the large majority of Muslim inhabitants. This has led to young Christian and Hindu girls being regularly selected for abduction and forced conversion.
As Ms Yousaf, the lawyer representing Huma who was reportedly kidnapped last October by Huma’s alleged abductor, Abdul Jabbar, said: “Until now, no family has ever succeeded in seeking justice, because the Christians are poor and poorly educated and cannot afford to pay for legal assistance.”
Ms Yousaf also believes that police officers have been corrupt in Huma’s case by assisting the man accused of injustice toward Huma. She explained: “In court, the officer in charge of the investigation, Akhtar Hussain, reported that on 9 January Huma had been brought before the court of first instance in order to sign a declaration stating that she was an adult. Neither I nor her parents had been informed and such procedures could not take place in the absence of both parties. So it is clear that the police are helping her abductor.”
However, Huma’s parents were able to present evidence showing that she is, indeed, a minor. Evidence included a baptismal certificate from Saint James’ parish in Karachi which gives her date of birth as 22 May 2005.
In a statement to ACN, Huma’s parents called on global media to help highlight the case of their daughter. They said: “We appeal to the international community and to the major international media, we appeal to you to raise your voices in defence of Huma. Our daughter is just 14 years old. If you had a 14-year-old daughter who was going through all these things, what would you do? How much would you be suffering? Please think of our child as though she were your own daughter. Please help us.”
This story is written and edited by ACN – www.acnireland.org.