Pakistan: Supreme Court rejects petition to protect young Christians from forced marriages

Pakistan's Supreme Court on July 14 rejected a constitutional petition to protect Christian girls from forced conversion and marriage.  

On Wednesday July 14, Mushir Alam, judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan rejected the appeal of Bishop Azad Marshall who had filed a petition to demand the establishment of a constitutional petition to protect young Christian girls against conversion and forced marriage pays off Morning Star News.

The judge said the bishop's request was not filed properly because it did not deal with an individual case. For Mgr Marshall, this concerns precisely "the whole of the Christian population in Pakistan and the violation of its fundamental rights" and "is not limited to an individual case".

According to the petition filed, Christian girls are victims of kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages. InfoChrétienne was interested in several cases of young Christian girls who have faced this phenomenon, such asArzoo Raja, Nayab gill, Farah shaeen, Huma Younus or even Shakaina masih. A survey dating from 2014 conducted by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan, revealed that this affects between 100 and 700 Christian girls each year in the country.

Although under Pakistani law child marriages are illegal and sex with minors under the age of 16 is considered rape, courts routinely rely on Sharia law to justify underage marriages, especially when this concerns cases of kidnapping and forced conversion reports International Christian Concern.

A principle "invoked on several occasions by judges of the courts of first instance and high courts while handing over the custody of Christian girls to their Muslim captors" asserts Bishop Azad Marshall who adds that this principle is however "often ignored when 'it is a question of judging cases of Muslim minors, and they are sent back to their families instead of their captors / husbands ”.

In his appeal, the bishop also asked the court to recognize the difference between Pakistani law and Sharia law.

"Government officials are unwilling to accept the fact that the conversion and forced marriage of underage Christian girls is in reality an attempt to cover up kidnapping and rape," the cleric continues, adding that "the police and the judiciary lower levels facilitate marriages and conversions of children ”.

Bishop plans to submit a new petition to Pakistan's Supreme Court, this time around the case Nayab gill, a 13-year-old Christian kid who was kidnapped, converted and forcibly married to a Muslim man 17 years her senior who was granted custody by the Lahore High Court in early July.

Pakistan is ranked fifth in theIndex of persecution of Christians 2021 from the NGO Open Doors.

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image Credit: AM Syed / Shutterstock.com

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