A young Christian girl, raped and forcefully converted; reunited with her family
CAPC Correspondence Pakistan
Farah Shaheen 13, a young Christian girl, was abducted from the city of Faisalabad, Pakistan, on June 25, 2020. She spent over eight months in the barn of a Muslim man, Khizar Hayat, 45, who allegedly raped, abducted, and forcefully converted her to Islam. The young girl was forced to work all day clearing dung in a cattle pen in the outskirts of the city.
Farah was abducted from the Eastern city of Faisalabad in June 2020, and in December, was rescued by the police. Farah was placed in a shelter and unable to meet with her family. Last month the police dropped an investigation against Hayat, claiming that Farah married him of her own free will. Many Christian and Civil Rights organisations in Pakistan have condemned the forced conversion and abduction of Farah and have called for strict punishment for her abductors.
Lord Alton, from the House of Commonwealth in the UK, led a team of members of parliament in the UK to present a motion to STOP the forced conversion, abduction and marriage of Christian & Hindu minors, by Muslims.
Qamar Rafiq, a Human Right activist, who also campaigned for the release of Farah Shaheen in the UK, said “It is impossible to compensate for the trauma and stress Farrah has been through in the last 8 months. Such crimes of forced conversion and marriage of minor girls belonging to minorities in Pakistan have risen to an unprecedented number. The Government of Pakistan must take prompt action to curtail such crimes, in order to uphold the values of religious freedom and human rights of the minority groups in Pakistan.
Lala Robin walked out of court with Farah with a special security force provided by the court in Faisalabad City Pakistan
Lala Robin Daniel, an activist from Warispura, a mainly Christian populated area in Faisalabad city, has held several processions and protests for the release of Farah. Robin also launched a social media campaign on Facebook to raise awareness of the issue.
On February 16th, 2021, on her appeal, the Pakistani Court gave orders to return the abducted girl to live with her parents. Farah re-joined her family eight months after being abducted. “Since the marriage between Farah Shaheen and Khizar Hayat has not been lawfully registered, she cannot be kept in a shelter house for an indefinite period,” said Judge Rana Masood Akhtar.
Nadeem Bhatti, the President of Canadian Aid to Persecuted Christians, has stated, “Annually there are around 1600 Christian and Hindu girls abducted and forcefully married to Muslim men two or three times the age of these girls. Children are innocent and can sometimes be bribed for a single chocolate and molested because they are not aware of the impending entrapment. It’s the responsibility of mature adult men to stop perpetrating this horrific practice. Such incidents should be dealt with severely to bring this to an end”.
An Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Rana Abdul Hammed, said the law does not allow the men to abduct marry and convert minor girls, especially Christians and Hindus. However, such cases have been increasing rapidly over the last two years. The legal age to marry a girl is 18 in Punjab and 16 in Sindh. Rana represents Canadian Aid to Persecuted Christians Inc, in the murder case of two Christian sisters, Sajida and Abida.