A court in Pakistan has ruled against the family of a kidnapped Christian girl who was forced into an Islamic marriage, saying in its decision that no law was broken if the girl had already had her first period.
The Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need-Italy reports that the Sindh High Court in Karachi issued the Feb. 3 ruling in the case of 14-year-old Huma Younus, who was taken from her home on Oct. 10, 2019, and later married to a radical Muslim man.
According to the charity, which is supporting the family, judge Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali Shah ruled that the Catholic girl’s marriage to her alleged abductor, Abdul Jabbar, is valid under Sharia law because the child has already had her first menstrual cycle.
“Once again justice has been defeated and once again has been proved that our state does not consider Christians to be Pakistani citizens,” mother Nagheena Younus told Aid to the Church in Need-Italy after the hearing.
Younus’ parents said their daughter’s marriage violates the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act forbidding the marriage of girls age 18 and younger. Although the law was passed in 2014, it has not yet been applied.
“We hoped that the law could have been applied for the first time in this case,” lawyer Tabassum Yousaf was quoted as saying. “But evidently in Pakistan, these laws are formulated and approved only to improve the image of the country in front of the international community, [and to] ask for funds for development and trade Pakistani products on the European market for free.”
Muslim-majority Pakistan ranks as the fifth-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution on the Open Doors USA 2020 World Watch List.
As the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reports, it’s estimated that as many as 1,000 women and girls are forcibly converted to Islam each year in Pakistan, many of whom are kidnapped, married and subject to rape.
Last year, Pakistan lawmakers rejected a national bill that would have raised the child marriage age to 18 after it was opposed by Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadari and other officials.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith