For the last 4 months a Christian family in Pakistan’s 3rd largest city, Faisalabad is enduring quite an ordeal at the hands of their daughter’s abductors and there seems no end to it soon. 14 year old Mehvish was a housemaid of a Muslim named Muhammad Iqbal. According to local media reports Mehvish was taken from home for the reason of working at a party arranged at Iqbal’s house but she never returned. Every time Mehvish’s family tried to bring her back, the employers mumbled lame excuses and didn’t send Mehvish back to her family. Ultimately her father, Tanveer Gill filed a complaint in Razaabad Police Station against his daughter’s employer and his family for abducting Mehvish. Due to negligence of Police the investigation went pending for two months. It took Tanveer Gill a long effort to convince the police officers to nominate Iqbal S/O Muhammad Sardar, Iqbal’s wife Majeedan Bibi, His sons Zahid, Shahid and Muhammmad Islam, his daughter Sumaira and daughter in Law Yasmeen in FIR #259. Meanwhile the community elders tried to find an out of court solution. For that purpose a community meeting was arranged at the house of Ayub in which it was agreed upon that Mehvish will be returned and Tanveer will withdraw his complain. Ayub told Tanveer to go alone to Chak # 73 for bringing back Mehvish. On the way Tanveer was murdered. Tanveer’s widow, Najma Bibi nominated Umar Daraz & the sons of Iqbal in the FIR of her husband’s murder. Umar Draz was also nominated in the 1st FIR of abducting Mehvish and in the investigation reports of the 1st FIR there is a reference to threats given to Tanveer by Umar Draz and others. After kidnapping of her daughter and killing of Tanveer, his widow is quite scared. “Now we have no more source of earning bread and we feel quite helpless and insecure for me and my daughters. Our only crime is to be Christian and poor.” Says desperate Najma Bibi.
Christian and other religious minority girls are abducted quite often in Pakistan. In most cases a certificate of conversion to Islam is produced to cover the crime and the case is closed. In Mehvish’s case also the same old dirty trick was played and a fake marriage certificate was produced.
According to Pakistani Law a girl under 18 can’t be married without her parent’s consent but in case of minority community girls this law is often ignored. The latest victim of this trend was 13 years old Christian girl Sana Shahid who was kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to Muhammad Waheed Akhter in Sialkot city.
In the case of Mehvish we have to wait and see in which direction the case goes. According to the law of restricting under age marriages the court should not to accept Mehvish’s Marriage Certificate for two reasons;
- In the so called Marriage Certificate Mehvish’s age is written 19 years. This contradicts her age by the Form-B of National Database and Registration Authority NADRA which shows her only 14 years old.
- One of the witnesses of the so called Marriage Certificate, Yaseen ul Rehman has stated in writing that he is not a witness of the marriage and the thumb impression of Yaseen ul Rehman isn’t real as he puts his signature instead of using a thumb impression.
PCPF is deeply concerned that in most cases of kidnapping minority community girls the end is very tragic. Some are forced to live as sex slaves. As after few years many are turned away by their captors (so called Muslim husbands and lovers) and they end up living miserable lives as sex workers.
Shockingly even when instances of kidnapping and forced conversion of Christian and Hindu girls have extremely increased in recent years yet the government has failed to stop it. No steps have been taken to block a “Nikah Khwan” ( Muslim Marriage Registrar) from registering a marriage after verifying the religious belief, age, consent of parents, etc. There is no punishment even for a Nikah Khwan who issues a fake marriage certificate of a Muslim man and a non-Muslim girl or woman. The government should protect Pakistan’s minority communities by making a law that any individual Marriage Registrar will be allowed to marry a Muslim Man and a non-Muslim girl only under a District Judge’s order and in the presence of the Station House Officer (SHO) of a local police station, after it has strongly and evidently been established that:
- The non Muslim girl is not under age (verification by ID Card or NADRA age Certificate Form-B),
- There is enough, undeniable proof that the non-Muslim girl or woman has embarrassed Islam by her free will and not under pressure of her abductor or for the fear of death,
- There hasn’t already been registered any complaint of kidnapping by the girl’s or woman’s family in any police station,
- That the judge and the SHO have enough assurances, monetary or legal, that the future of such a girl or woman is protected and she will be accepted by the Muslim man’s family, will be respected and given equal rights,
- At the time of appearing in the court the girl or woman has not been living with her abductor or Muslim husband for at least two weeks so she had enough time to think and decide about her future without pressure from any side.
- She has an opportunity to see her previous family (father or husband),
- She can get legal aid by a woman lawyer and police protection.