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Another Pakistani Christian Girl Becomes Victim of Forced Conversion and Forced Marriage

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Pakistan– Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Pakistani Christian girl, is the latest victim in the pattern of the kidnapping, forced conversion, and forced marriage of young Christian girls in the country. This case prompted demonstrations against these grave injustices in an attempt to give a voice to the suppressed religious minorities of Pakistan. With these kidnappings taking place now more regularly than before, the religious minorities have been pushed to increasing extremes of discrimination.

Arzoo, from the city of Karachi located in the southern part of Pakistan in the province of Sindh, was abducted by her next door neighbor, Mr. Azhar Ali, taken against her will, forcefully converted to Islam, and married to the 44-old kidnapper. Her parents filed an official report with the police department and immediately began pursuing legal action on behalf of their daughter, which resulted in the most recent decision of the high court favoring the 44-year-old kidnapper and upholding the marriage. Although the case filed by the parents was pending in district court, where the abductor refused to disclose the whereabouts of Arzoo, Mr. Ali filed the complaint in High Court for protection on behalf of Arzoo. The judge did not provide a fair opportunity to the plaintiffs, which was a direct violation of Article 10-A of the prevailing state constitutions and issued a one-sided decision without examining the government, school, or church documents clearly starting that the girl was a minor of the age of 13. Moreover, the parents and the lawyers were unable to present their case before the issuance of the said court order. The pending jurisdiction of the lower court and orders for Arzoo to be produced in court were ignored by the high court. Instead of producing her in lower court, Mr. Ali presented Arzoo at the higher court, which was an openly disrespectful and deceiving maneuver by the abductors. Such a strategy is quite indicative of a complicity within the police and the system in regards to this case.

As codified in the Sindh Child Marriages Restrained Act of 2013, the province of Sindh has prohibited child marriage and restricted the age of consent to 18 years of age. Even though documents produced by Arzoo’s family clearly proved her to be 13, the judge refused to review this evidence. Instead, the judge of the high court sided with the falsified documents presented by the kidnappers.

The case sparked demonstrations in the region protesting this pattern of injustice. Forced kidnappings and forced conversions have become commonplace in Pakistan and remain a consistent point of fear for the girls in the religious minority communities.

Dr. Sabir Michael, a Karachi-based academic, Human Rights defender, and participant organizer of these demonstrations said, “It is the second reported case of abduction, forced conversion, and marriage of the minor Christian girl in Karachi in recent months, which has increased a sense of fear and insecurity in the Christian community at large. Apparently, it seemed that the policy and administrations of the court, as well as the city and state institutions, stood with Azhar Ali, the abductor of the minor girl. Her mother was not allowed to meet her in separation, which further seeded mistrust and outrage against the state institutions among the plaintiffs, human rights defenders, and the Christian and minority community.”

Since Mr. Ali’s two brothers are the employees of the Sindh police, Dr. Michael severely doubted the effectiveness of the police in this case. “A fair trial should be provided, giving the strongest considerations to her status as a minor. Additionally, her medical examination should be conducted independently and she should be placed in the custody of the relevant child protection unit of the Sindh government. Even better, she should preferably be placed in the protection home for the girls and women under the supervision of Justice Majida Rizvi, a chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission.”

The international community must speak up on behalf of the oppressed in Pakistan and demand justice for these innocent girls and their families.
Sources:persecution

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പതിനാറ് രാജ്യങ്ങളിൽ ഇഫ്താർ വിതരണം നടത്താനൊരുങ്ങി സൗദി അറേബ്യ

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റിയാദ്: പതിനാറ് രാജ്യങ്ങളില്‍ ഇഫ്താര്‍ വിതരണം നടത്തുന്ന പദ്ധതിക്ക് തുടക്കം കുറിക്കാനൊരുങ്ങി സൗദി അറേബ്യ. കൊവിഡ് പ്രതിരോധ, മുന്‍കരുതല്‍ നടപടികള്‍ പാലിച്ച് സൗദി 16 രാജ്യങ്ങളില്‍ ഇഫ്താര്‍ വിതരണം നടത്തുമെന്ന് റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട് ചെയ്തു.

വിവിധ പ്രദേശങ്ങളില്‍ നിന്നുള്ള അഭ്യര്‍ത്ഥനകള്‍ക്കനുസരിച്ച് അതത് രാജ്യങ്ങളിലെ സൗദി എംബസികളുമായും ഇസ്ലാമിക് മന്ത്രാലയ കേന്ദ്രങ്ങളുമായും ഏകോപിപ്പിച്ചാണ് വിതരണം നടത്തുക. ലോകമെമ്പാടമുള്ള മുസ്ലിംകളെ സേവിക്കുക എന്ന ലക്ഷ്യത്തോടെ ഇസ്ലാമികകാര്യ മന്ത്രാലയം നടപ്പിലാക്കാനുദ്ദേശിക്കുന്ന പദ്ധതിക്ക് എല്ലാ പിന്തുണയും നല്‍കുന്ന സല്‍മാന്‍ രാജാവിനും കിരീടാവകാശി അമീര്‍ മുഹമ്മദ് ബിന്‍ സല്‍മാനും ഇസ്ലാമികകാര്യ മന്ത്രി ഡോ. അബ്ദുല്ലത്തീഫ് അല്‍ അശൈഖ് നന്ദി അറിയിച്ചു. ഇഫ്താര്‍ വിഭവങ്ങള്‍ വിതരണം ചെയ്യുമ്പോള്‍ ഓരോ രാജ്യങ്ങളിലെയും ഗുണഭോക്താക്കളുടെയും വിതരണ തൊഴിലാളികളുടെയും സുരക്ഷ ഉറപ്പുവരുത്തുന്നതിനായി വേണ്ട കൊവിഡ് പ്രതിരോധ നടപടികള്‍ സ്വീകരിക്കുമെന്ന് മന്ത്രി വ്യക്തമാക്കി.

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Court in India Grants Bail to Men Accused of Harassing Nuns

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India – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), a court in India’s Uttar Pradesh state has granted bail to three Hindu activists accused of harassing two Catholic nuns and their students on a train.

On March 19, two nuns from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart were forcefully removed from a train in Jhansi by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists. The mob falsely accused the nuns of trafficking two young women for the purpose of converting them to Christianity.

Although the two women show identification proving they were already Christian, the mob continued to harass the nuns and handed them over to railway police. The nuns were then marched to the local police station as the mob followed chanting obscenities and nationalist slogans.

Local church leadership eventually engaged with police to resolve the issue. However, the four Christian women had to leave Jhansi the next day disguised in civilian clothes.

Railway police arrested Ajay Shankar Tiwari, Anchal Arjaria, and Purgesh Amaria on April 2 in connection with the incident. However, these three men were granted bail by the Jhansi District Court on April 7.

UCAN reports that the decision to grant bail has brought mix reactions from Christian leaders.

“We can’t see it as a setback for us as there is a provision for people getting bail according to the Indian constitution,” Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai told UCAN. “We should believe in the law of the land. It might take some time, but I believe that one day the accused will be brought under the law.”

Across India, impunity is enjoyed by many perpetrators of religiously motivated violence. In many cases, the perpetrators of anti-Christian violence falsely accuse their victims of engaging in fraudulent religious conversions to justify their attacks. Unfortunately, local authorities often accept these justifications as legitimate and allow perpetrators to escape justice.
Sources:persecution

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