Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 15 June |
Saint of the Day: St. Vitus and Companions
home iconNews
line break icon

Police rescue 13-year-old Pakistani girl who was kidnapped and forcibly married

Arzoo

© AED

Zelda Caldwell - published on 11/03/20 - updated on 11/03/20

Arzoo Raja, who is Catholic, was abducted and forced to convert to Islam on October 13.

A Pakistani court has ruled that Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Christian girl who was kidnapped and forced to marry and convert to Islam, should be taken to a safe haven under the court’s protection.

Her abductor, 44-year-old Ali Azhar, was arrested on charges of kidnapping, perjury, and marriage with a minor, according to an AsiaNews report.

The Sindh court ruling is a reversal of an October 27 ruling in which the court determined that that Arzoo was 18 years old and converted to Islam of her own free will. Her family contested that ruling, saying the documents presented in court were forged.

The new ruling comes after a campaign by human rights activists, Christian groups, and women’s associations to urge the enforcement of the 2013 Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Actwhich was passed to protect minors from forced marriages.

The pontifical agency, Aid to the Church in Need, provided legal and paralegal aid to secure the Catholic girl’s rescue.

According to the AsiaNews report, the intervention of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, president of the Pakistani People’s Party (PPP), was “especially important.”

Zardari had posted a message on Twitter on October 30 saying, “GOS (Government of Sindh) will approach the courts to review the #ArzooRaja underage marriage case, clear up any misunderstanding the honourable court may have, and do everything in their power to provide justice, and the PPP-led provincial government had passed the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act in 2013 and it will “continue to fight for it to be implemented.”

Arzoo is now safe in a protected place, confirmed Diego Saleh, vicar general and director of the Karachi Justice and Peace Commission.

Saleh thanked those responsible for Arzoo’s rescue, but said that there is still much work to be done to secure the rights of minors in Pakistan.

“Our struggle is not over, it is only at the beginning because there are still hundreds of Arzoos waiting for justice and a freedom, said Saleh.

According to a 2014 report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP), about 1,000 women in Pakistan are forcibly converted to Islam every year, which includes nearly 700 Christian and 300 Hindu women.  About 21% of girls in Pakistan are married before the age of 18 and 3% are married before the age of 15.

Tags:
PakistanReligious Freedom
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s deep faith shines in her viral performance on ...
2
HOMILY
Magnús Sannleikur
5-year-old boy interrupts homily and asks for prayers for his int...
3
SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Philip Kosloski
Miracle prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
Edifa
4 Phrases about Jesus that you should never say to your child
6
Revista Misión
Interview: The husband of Chiara Corbella on his wife’s sac...
7
RECONSTRUCTED CHRIST
Lucandrea Massaro
This 3D “carbon copy” of Jesus was created using the ...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.