06/23/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to Morning Star News, a 13-year-old Christian girl was abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam last month in Gujranwala, Pakistan. Despite evidence of the Christian girl’s minor status, a judge awarded custody of the girl to a 30-year-old Muslim man claiming to be her husband.
Nayab Gill, age 13, worked as a helper at a beauty salon owned by Saddam Hayat, a 30-year-old Muslim man. According to Shahid Gill, Nayab’s father, Hayat allowed Nayab to work at his salon while schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hayat promised to pay Nayab 10,000 rupees per month. However, Hayat stopped paying Nayab after several months.
On May 20, Nayab went missing. Gill and his wife went to Hayat’s home in search for Nayab, but Hayat’s wife and children claimed he was not home. Later in the day, however, Hayat contacted the Christian couple and helped them search for their missing daughter.
According to Morning Star News, Hayat even helped Nayab’s mother fill out a missing person report. However, Hayat convinced Nayab’s mother not to mention that Nayab worked for him or that he used to take her to and from the beauty salon.
“My wife unknowingly trusted him and wrote what he told her to write in the application,” Gill told Morning Star News. “On May 26, we were informed by the police that Nayab was in the Darul Aman [women’s shelter] since May 21. In an application submitted to a magistrate’s court, Nayab claimed she had willfully converted to Islam a month ago and her life was at risk from her Christian family.”
According to this application, Nayab also claimed to be 19 years old, and an Islamic marriage certificate was registered on May 20 claiming she had married Hayat.
Nayab’s family was able to meet with Nayab on May 26 in the women’s shelter. During this visit, Nayab reportedly told her grandmother she wanted to return home and was willing to state this in an application to the court. Morning Star News reports that the family was forcefully driven away from the women’s shelter by police and Hayat after they were informed of the family’s presence by the shelter’s staff.
On May 27, Nayab appeared in court and reiterated her initial statement claiming she was 19 years old and had converted to Islam of her own free will.
“We told the judge that she was lying about her age under duress,” Gill told Morning Star News. “She had bruises on her face, and her eyes were also red, which should have caught the judge’s attention, but he ignored it.”
Nayab’s parents presented official documents proving Nayab was born on October 16, 2007. The judge, however, ignored this evidence and awarded custody of Nayab to Hayat.
“The judge accepted Nayab’s request to be allowed to leave the Darul Aman with Hayat’s family,” Gill told Morning Star News. “There was nothing we could do to stop her. My mother collapsed in the courtroom as soon as the judge gave his order.”
According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year.
Many victims are minors taken from their families, sexually assaulted, married to an assailant, and held in captivity justified by falsified marriage and conversion documents. Violence and threats are used to compel victims to make statements in court supporting their captors.
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