Fifteen year old Pakistani Christian girl becomes latest victim of forced Islamic marriage


Date:                            January 21, 2016

By Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST News Service,

KASUR, PAKISTAN (ANS, January 21, 2016) – Child marriage in Pakistan is legally prohibited to an extent under the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 (No XIX). Under the Act, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years for a male and 16 years for a female (section 2).

mi wilson chowdhry of BPCA 01 21 2016According to the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), contravention is punishable with a fine of Rs.1000 and an imprisonment of one month or both for an adult male (above 18 years of age) who contracts marriage with a child (section 4), a person who solemnizes a child marriage (section 5), a parent or guardian who does not act to prevent a child marriage (section 6).

BPCA reports that a fifteen year old Christian girl, Saima Masih, became the latest victim of abduction, rape and forced Islamic marriage in Pakistan, when she was kidnapped on January 3, 2015.

smaller Family of Pakistani girlSaima and her family were worshipping at their local church in Kasur, on Sunday, January 3. During the service, Saima felt thirsty so she went out to drink some water. To the dismay of her family, she never returned as she had been kidnapped by a local Muslim man by the name of Munir, who took her to his home town of Harrapa, 184km away. Here he forced her to marry her, despite her age being below the legal age of consent, which is 16. Munir owned the local fields where Saima’s family and other local people were hired as laborers, and was spotted taking Saima with him.

BPCA says Saima’s father (aged 53) is heartbroken at the loss of his daughter.

Bedridden Pakistani“His severe disability has left him wheelchair-bound and he is relying on his eldest son, Riaz Masih, to challenge local police for Saima's return. Munir told BPCA Officer Naveed Aziz that he has been shocked by the kidnap of his sister and wants her returned to their family,
said the BPCA’s Wilson Chowdhry.

Saima’s brother said: "Saima is only 15 -- it is illegal for anyone to marry her. We have her birth certificate and can prove her age, yet local Police are doing little to free my sister who must be terrified by her situation."

BPCA reported that local Police begrudgingly filed a First Incident Report (FIR) against Munir, but so far little has been done to apprehend the abductor and return Saima to her family.
BPCA stated that Saima was one of nine siblings, and all of them are praying for the return of their sister. The family has not returned to work and BPCA has provided them with two months’ food parcels to hold them over while they challenge for the return of their daughter.

“We would like to support the cost of their legal fees which would amount to around £400GBP ($569USD),” said Chowdhry.
BPCA graphic 01 21 2016BPCA is challenging people to sign their petition calling for an end to forced Islamic Marriage in Pakistan (click here).  

The Muslim NGO 'Movement of Solidarity and Peace' now reports that 700 Christian girls aged between 12 - 25 are kidnapped every year and a further 300 Hindu girls suffer a similar fate.  

Naveed Aziz, officer for the BPCA, said: "The alarming number of girls being forced into Islamic marriage has reached nearly two a day.  Yet the Government does nothing to eradicate this growing social malaise.  Sadly Pakistani authorities are in cahoots with perpetrators as many of them believe an evil doctrine that promotes conversions in this manner is a holy act.”  
BPCA has launched an appeal for Saima’s family.

“We really hope to help with the legal costs, help towards rent and other assistance that the victim family will now need as the cope with the loss of their child and ensuing legal battle,” said Chowdhry.

Contact BPCA through

Photo captions: 1) Wilson Chowdhry of BPCA (BPCA photo) 2) Saima's siblings. 3) Arshad Masih is bedridden as Naveed talks to elder brother of Saima, Rashid (21). (BPCA). 4) Graphic (Courtesy BPCA). 5) Michael Ireland.

Michael Ireland small useAbout the Writer: Michael Ireland is a Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as a volunteer Internet Journalist and Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Click to see a daily digest of Michael's stories for ANS.

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