KARACHI, Pakistan (ChurchMilitant.com) — In Pakistan, teenage Christian girls are being abducted, raped and forcibly (falsely) "married" to their Muslim captors — a practice facilitated at almost all levels of the country's Islamic government.
Earlier this month, Catholic humanitarian group Aid to Church in Need presented a video to the British parliament of 14-year-old Maira Shahbaz, who pleaded for asylum owing to threats from "death squads" who are looking for her.
The young Christian read from Psalm 82:3–4 in her plea for the United Kingdom to "defend the weak" and "uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed." Shahbaz also prayed for other Christian girls who have been similarly violated by their Muslim countrymen.
Shahbaz was abducted at gunpoint in broad daylight on April 28. She was then gang-raped by her new husband, Mohammad Nakash Tariq, and his associates.
In Shahbaz's case, Tariq had full rights to his bride restored by the Muslim court in Lahore and ordered her return to him after the hearing on Aug. 4. Later that month, she escaped from custody with her family and since then has been hiding in fear for her life.
Shahbaz has been afraid to receive treatment for the physical and psychological trauma she has suffered out of fear of being reported to the authorities, who would forcibly return her to her rapist, Tariq.
Shahbaz has reported she was coerced to lie in court about her age and decision to convert to Islam with free will. Tariq threatened to kill her family and uploaded to social media a video of her gang rape.
In another high-profile case in October, 13-year-old Arzoo Raja was kidnapped by 44-year-old Muslim Ali Azhar. Azhar repeatedly raped the young Christian girl, then forced her into "marriage" and compelled her to convert to Islam.
On Nov. 23, a court in the province of Sindh ruled that Raja would be housed in a government-run shelter. Lawyers for the girl's family are devastated that she won't be allowed to return to her family.
Multiple Pakistani-Americans, who wish to remain anonymous, have expressed to Church Militant their concern about Raja's welfare. They warn that whatever education and care she is receiving comes at the hands of Muslim government workers and that these officials could indoctrinate Raja to accept her status as "wife" and convince her to return to Azhar when she turns 18.
So-called conversions like Raja's are often fake but presented in court to place a legally binding penalty of death on any young girl who may escape and "apostatize" back to her Christian faith.
It has been over a year since the now 15-year-old Huma Younus has been abducted. A grueling court process over the span of half a year resulted in the court declaring Younus an adult who must remain with her abductor, Jabbar Khan Qaisrani.
Younus was last reported by Church Militant to be pregnant from her repeated rape and has been held captive, isolated, in a room except when her so-called husband wishes to claim his rights on his child-wife.
There has been no update on whether Pakistan's highest court will hear the case.
Younus' mother, Nageena, has been distraught with a heartache unimaginable to anyone who has not lost a child. Her loss has pained her so much that she has claimed she would be forever grateful to Qaisrani if he would just allow her to talk to her daughter.
For now, it is difficult enough for Nageena to keep her younger daughter safe by raising money from donations to send the preteen to a private Christian school where there are fewer day-to-day interactions with Muslims who could prey on her.