08/29/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to The Nation, the Lahore High Court has ordered police in Pakistan to ensure the security of Maira Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Christian girl who was abducted and forcefully married to a Muslim man in April. Earlier this week International Christian Concern (ICC) reported that Shahbaz escaped the custody of her alleged husband and has gone into hiding with her mother and siblings.
On April 28, 2020, Shahbaz was abducted at gunpoint by Mohamad Nakash and two accomplices while walking home in Madina Town, near Faisalabad. According to witnesses, the abductors forced Shahbaz into a car and fired gunshots in the air as they fled the scene.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports Shahbaz told police she was drugged, raped, and force to sign blank papers that were later used by Nakash as a marriage certificate and a conversion certificate. Shahbaz also claims that Nakash filmed her being raped and has threatened to release the video online if she resists him.
Shahbaz reportedly appeared before the regional police officer on August 28 to record her statement against Nakash. In addition to providing security, the Lahore High Court has also ordered police to investigate the video Shahbaz claims is being used to blackmail her.
According to a 2014 study by The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities are abducted, forcefully married to their captors, and forcibly converted to Islam every year. The issue of religion is also often injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.