High Court in Pakistan Orders Police to Recover Arzoo Raja

11/02/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights tweeted that the Sindh High Court has ordered Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Christian girl, be recovered by police and moved into a shelter home. This comes almost a month after Arzoo’s parents claim their daughter was abducted, forcefully converted, and forcefully married by their 44-year-old Muslim neighbor.

On Monday, November 2, Shireen Mazari, Minister for Human Rights, took to twitter to report the latest development in the Arzoo Raja case. Minister Mazari’s tweet read:

On the Arzoo case, today judge has ordered the girl be recovered by police & relevant agencies & be shifted to a shelter home. Next hearing fixed for Thursday morning. My lawyer has informed court that an intervener will be filed on my behalf.

This news comes as a positive development for Arzoo’s parents and the legal team fighting to have her returned to her family. According to the family’s lawyer, Arzoo will also be produced before the court on November 5 and will have her age determined through medical testing prior to the hearing.

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail said that Arzoo’s case would be solved according to the law. “There can be no compromise on cases involving underage marriage,” Governor Ismail said in a meeting with representatives of minority communities at the Governor House.

On October 13, Arzoo was abducted from her family home in Karachi by her Muslim neighbor, Ali Azhar. Arzoo’s parents reported the incident to local police and were informed two days later that their daughter had converted to Islam and married Azhar.

Arzoo’s parents have challenged the validity of the marriage to Azhar claiming that it violates the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act. However, on October 27, the High Court of Sindh ruled in favor of the marriage, applying an interpretation of Sharia law that allows for underage marriages.

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 often complicit.

The issue of religion is also 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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