Pakistan: Family Of Abducted 13-Year-Old Christian Girl In Multan Challenges Forced Conversion


In a press release, Jubilee Campaign Netherlands, raises the issue of alleged force conversion on March 13, 2024, with Roshani Shakeel, a 13 year old Christian girl, who was first abducted and later forcibly converted to Islam and  married off to her abductor, Muazzam Mazher in Basti Khaliq Pura, Multan, Pakistan.

According to Mrs Shakeel, Roshani’s mother, the horrifying ordeal unfolded when she went to a supermarket, upon returning home her daughter was missing. She began searching for Roshani, enquiring in the neighborhood and scouring the streets for any sign of her.

Eyewitnesses reported that Muazzam Mazher, accompanied by a group of individuals, arrived on a motorcycle and forcibly took Roshani from her home to an unknown location.

The family promptly reported the abduction to the police authorities, filing FIR no 782/24 at the Sital Mari Police Station in Multan against the abductor.

Shakeel Masih, Roshani’s father, revealed that the motive behind the abduction was the family’s refusal to marry their daughter to a Muslim man.

On March 15, after two days of her missing, a local cleric from the area sent the marriage certificate to Roshani’s parents saying that she has been converted to Islam and married Muazzan and now they cannot do anything. The news left the vulnerable parents with shock and grief.

Joseph Jansen with Jubilee Campaign the Netherlands said, Shakeel Masih even sold household items, including their bed, sofa, mobile phone, and bike, to fund their efforts to locate their daughter.

However, their appeals for help have been met with apathy and discrimination. Jansen also highlighted the systemic challenges faced by minority communities in seeking justice, added Johnson. 

Jansen pointed out that the community members who have been reluctant to assist, when it comes to conversion to Islam and relevant authorities play the roles of facilitating the conversion to Islam and ignoring the fact of a minor being married. 

Joseph Jansen highlighted that despite the legal framework provided by the Child Marriage Restraint Act and several court precedents establishing the marriage age at 18 years for both men and women, certain officers with religiously biased mindsets and administrative shortcomings lack the will to enforce these laws. This reluctance has emboldened perpetrators to continue their heinous crimes under the guise of Islamic marriage and conversion.

The manipulation of the law and justice system by perpetrators further exacerbates the problem. Without legislation specifically addressing forced faith conversions and adequate enforcement of existing domestic laws, these harmful practices persist, Jansen added

Jansen urged the government to enact laws criminalizing forced faith conversions and ensure the strict enforcement of existing legislation. Individuals involved in facilitating forced faith conversions and child marriages must be brought to justice to curb these egregious violations of human rights. 

Nadia Stephen, a women’s rights activist, finds it deeply disturbing to witness the persistence of heinous acts against young girls, especially belonging to religious minorities. The abduction, trafficking, and forced marriages of Christian and Hindu girls as young as 13, followed by coercion into converting to Islam, are utterly reprehensible, she stated. 

Nadia condemning these egregious violations of human rights said that it is not only inflict immeasurable harm on the victims, but also underscore the urgent need for robust legal protections and enforcement mechanisms to safeguard the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of gender or age. 

The victimised family is appealing to the authorities to prioritize Roshani’s safe return back home and ensure that justice prevails.

Kashif Nawab

Kashif Nawab is a Director with Social Action Transformation of Humanity (SATH) in Pakistan.

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