Pakistani Christian ‘child bride’ sold to Muslim ‘husband’ ordered to appear before court to testify

Christians in Pakistan

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ordered Gujranwala district police in Pakistan to recover and present in court a Christian girl alleged to have been forcibly converted and married after her family expressed fears that the child had been sold off by her Muslim ‘husband’, local media reported.

“Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafique has admitted our petition for the recovery of 14-year-old Nayab Gill and ordered the Gujranwala police chief to present the child in court on July 27,” Supreme Court Advocate Saif Ul Malook told Kross Konnection.

Malook said they moved the court after Nayab’s father, Shahid Gill received information from some sources that his minor daughter had allegedly been sold off by her purported husband, Saddam Hayat.

“The family is very concerned about Nayab’s safety and wellbeing; therefore, we asked the court to order police to recover the girl so that we can make sure that she’s safe and her rights are not being violated,” the lawyer of the family said and quoted by Kross Konnection.

Gill, the girl’s father, told Kross Konnection that both he and his wife were already very worried about their daughter’s safety. He said that their fears increased when the accused told a family member that Nayab was not with him now.

“Saddam has changed his statements about Nayab’s disappearance multiple times since then and we fear that he has either sold my daughter to someone or may even have killed her. At least now the police will investigate the matter and we’ll know whether our child is safe or not,” he said.

A tailor by profession, Gill appealed to the superior judiciary to fix his appeal in the SC at the earliest.

“It is now nearly a year that we have filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision to hand Nayab’s custody to Saddam, but the court has not taken up our case,” the distressed father said.

Pakistan’s government has also failed to stop the forced conversion of women from minority communities. As per media reports, over 1,000 such girls are abducted in Pakistan annually and 70 per cent of them are minor. They are forced to change their religious identity and married off, often sold off.

United Nations `Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women’ expressed concerns over the “uneven” application of gender equality policies and programmes in Pakistan as well as raised alarm over violence against women, forced marriages and honour killings.

The prosecution and judicial services in Pakistan have very little to offer for women victims as the loopholes in the law ensure the perpetrators are not punished and even charged, Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International said.