ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian girl, kidnapped and converted, reunites with her family

Thursday, 23 December 2021 islam   kidnappings   women   religious minorities  

Karachi (Agenzia Fides) - Arzoo Raja, a 14-year-old Christian girl kidnapped, converted to Islam and was forcibly married to 44-year-old Muslim Azhar Ali, her kidnapper, reunites with her family. This was ruled yesterday December 22, 2021 by the Sindh Province High Court in an order. Her family brought her home after obtaining the court order, assuring that she will be taken care of with love. The case broke out in October 2020 (see Fides, 21/10/2020) and had wide media, social and political coverage.
In the hearing held yesterday morning, the appeal presented by the family asked if Arzoo Raja could leave the government institute of Panah Gah, where she lived, entrusted to social services, and return to live with her parents, after a year of reflection on her choices of life (see Fides, 23/11/2020).
During the hearing, the judge spoke to the girl and her parents. Arzoo Raja, who was 13 at the time of the marriage and the dispute, showed her willingness to return with her parents. When asked about her conversion to Islam she replied that she had converted out "of her own free will".
The judge asked Arzoo's parents to bring her home and her parents said that they welcome the girl with joy, will take care of her, and will not to pressure her on the issue of religious conversion.
Dilawar Bhatti, president of the "Christian Peoples Alliance", present at the hearing, welcomed the court's decision. Speaking to Fides he said: "It is good news that Arzoo will live again with her family and will spend Christmas in peace. Many people, lawyers, social workers, citizens raised their voices and prayed for this case. We thank all of them".
Dilawer Bhatti informs: "The court ruled that Arzoo must not meet with her alleged husband who is facing a trial under the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013, for violating the law of child marriages". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/12/2021)