“Official’s aide, accused of running prostitution ring, kidnapped 15-year-old, mother says.”
ICC Note: Asma Masih, a 15-year-old Christian girl was abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, and married to a Muslim man in Karachi on December 10, Morning Star News reports. Kidnappings of girls and women from religious minority communities are often accompanied by acts of extreme violence, including rape, beatings, and other forms of physical and mental abuse. Like Rebecca, Christian girls are given few legal rights if they are fortunate enough to escape. More often than not, however, their families never see them again.
01/22/2013 Pakistan (MSN) -A powerful Pakistani official’s aide who is allegedly running a prostitution ring here has taken a Christian girl from her home and forced her to convert to Islam and marry him, according to the girl’s family.
“Ghaji was our tenant for some months, but we asked him to vacate the premises after two police raids on our house revealed that he was running a prostitution network from the upper portion of our house,” said Khursheed Bibi, of Neelum Colony in Karachi’s Clifton area. “The police recovered some girls from Ghaji’s rooms in both raids; however, he escaped arrest because of Minister Siraj Durrani, who is considered very close to President Asif Zardari and acts as his enforcer in Karachi.”
Mother to seven daughters (two married) and six sons, Khursheed Bibi said the family searched for Asma without success that night in Karachi, Pakistan’s violence-ridden financial hub.
“The next afternoon we got a call from Ghaji that Asma had eloped with him and they had contracted nikah [marriage],” she said. “He also claimed that Asma had converted to Islam and asked us not to look for her, as she won’t be returning home.”
“I could not believe my ears, because Asma is hardly 15 and Ghaji is thrice her age,” she said. “I told him that I wanted to speak to Asma for the last time, so he handed over the phone to her. ‘What have you done my child, my child?’ I asked as Asma burst into tears. [She said], ‘They are not going to let me return home, mother – do something.’”
Khursheed Bibi said that she and her husband went to Boat Basin Police Station to file a First Information Report, but the duty officer refused to register a case against Khan.
“We told him that Ghaji had abducted our daughter, but the official refused to listen to us,” she said. “[The duty officer said], ‘Do you know Ghaji works for Siraj Durrani? I’d suggest that you forget your daughter and stop creating problems for your other children.’”
Disappointed by the police, Khursheed Bibi said the family filed a court petition to enjoin the police to register a case against Khan and recover Asma from his custody.
“We told the court that our daughter was a minor and could not have made an independent decision to renounce her faith,” she said. “It is quite evident from the circumstances that Ghaji had contracted a fake Islamic marriage with her to avoid arrest. The court admitted the petition and ordered police to register a case against Ghaji and produce Asma in court.”
Police registered a case (No. 644/12) against Khan on Dec. 22, but despite repeated court directions to arrest him, officers have not made a single raid.
Meantime, Khan’s lawyer has submitted a marriage certificate to police claiming that Asma had converted to Islam and had married his client of her own free will. The certificate issued by Mufti Abdullah of Jamia Yousufia at Malir says that Asma had embraced Islam, and that her new name is Farzana.
“The mufti is definitely a part of this racket,” Khursheed Bibi said. “Even if one supposes for a minute that Asma has willingly accepted Islam, how can the mufti validate a marriage of a 15-year-old, which is strictly against the law? We have submitted evidence [birth certificate and baptism certificate issued by the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church in Karachi] to the court, while Ghaji is claiming that she is over 18.”
Her lawyer, Jamil Virk, has petitioned the court to recover Asma and set up a medical board to determine her exact age. The family has also asked that when police rescue her daughter, she be sent to a government-run women’s shelter until the case is decided.