10/19/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Last week, a 13-year-old Christian girl was abducted outside of her home in Karachi, Pakistan. Two days later, the girl’s parents were informed she had become the latest victim of forced conversion and forced marriage.
On October 13, Arzoo Masih was abducted by Ali Azhar, a local Muslim man, while she was playing outside of her home in Karachi’s St. Anthony’s Parish. Arzoo’s parents immediately filed a kidnapping complaint with local police.
Two days later, on October 15, police summoned Arzoo’s parents to the station where they presented the couple with marriage and conversion documents. These documents claimed Arzoo was 18 and that she had converted to Islam and married Azhar willingly.
Speaking to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Shabbir Shafqat, President of the National Christian Party, condemned the abduction, forced conversion, and forced marriage of Arzoo.
“Forced conversion has become a major tool for the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan,” Shafqat told UCAN. “We must make a united stand against Arzoo’s abduction.”
According to a study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year. Many of the victims are minors. Sexual assaults and fraudulent marriages are used by perpetrators to entrap victims and authorities are complicit.
The issue of religion is also often injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.
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