ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Punjab High Court closes the case: Farah Hatim stays with the Muslim family

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Bahawalpur (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic girl Farah Hatim will stay with her Muslim husband. This is what sources of Fides in Bahawalpur say, where today, July 20, the hearing before the local branch of the Punjab High Court was held. The appeal before the High Court was presented by the APM (All Pakistan Minorities Alliance), after a court of first instance had turned down the request to meet the girl, who according to family members was kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim man in the city of Rahim Yar Khan (see Fides 12/7/2011).
In tears, Hatim Farah appeared today before the judge of the High Court of Punjab, Bahawalpur section. When the judge asked her the question "which family do you choose", the girl, after an interminable silence, replied: "Both." The Court argued that "this is impossible", the question was repeated. At that point, Farah chose her new Muslim family.
So the curtain drops on a case that has enthralled the Christian community public in Pakistan, concerned about Christian girls who are kidnapped and forced into an Islamic marriage, more than 700 cases are reported every year. The judge allowed Farah to have a private talk with her family of origin for 10 minutes. The girl, say sources of Fides, reported that she was indeed "taken in" but she also confided, visibly shaken, that "she cannot come back". According to Farah's family, the reasons for her choice are not clear: they could be due to death threats or intimidations, but also the possibility that the girl is pregnant. In this case, according to the customary law of Pakistan, Farah cannot help but stay with her husband, because if repudiated, she would be "labeled forever" and no man would ever want her by his side.
"Beyond the possible reasons, when the court asked her the most important question, Farah said she wanted to stay with her Muslim husband, marking her destiny forever. From now on, the family of origin no longer has any authority over her, even according to the law " note sources of Fides.
The High Court had set the hearing for yesterday, July 19, ordering the police of Rahim Yar Khan to take the girl. The agents did not execute the order yesterday, saying the judge was ill. The judge issued a new ordinance requiring the police to conduct the girl before the Court today.
In any case Farah’s family confirmed to Fides their concern for the girl’s destiny, saying they are "not convinced" of the story’s outcome. This is why they ask the international community to put pressure on the Pakistani government to review the case. Local sources of Fides say that Farah was however victim of a network that carries out " women trafficking", with ties in the hospital where Farah worked and in the world of politics, to provide girls to politicians in sight. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 20/07/2011)