14-Year-Old Christian Girl Kidnapped, Forced to 'Marry' Muslim - Pakistan's Trafficking Epidemic Explodes
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A 14-year-old Christian girl who lived in the Zia Colony located in Karachi, Pakistan has been kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and then "married" off to a Muslim man.
According to multiple media outlets, Huma Younus was kidnapped by three men from her home Karachi in October. The men waited on her parents to leave the house before forcibly taking the young girl. She was reportedly taken to Dera Gazi Khan, a city in the Punjab province of Pakistan, more than 370 miles from her home.
Since she was taken, the girl's parents have been doing everything they can to recover their daughter. Unfortunately, local law enforcement officials have not been any help. Christian Today reported the city police at first refused to file any type of complaint against the girl's abductors, but finally, after numerous attempts by the parents, police officials did file a complaint.
The website also reports Huma's parents received documents from the abductors a few days after she was taken, including papers showing her conversion to Islam and a marriage certificate. The girl's mother Nagina says the papers are fake because the date on documents was the same as the day when her daughter was abducted.
"It is not possible," she told Asia News.
Huma's parents have appealed their case to the Court of Justice in Sindh Province. Their daughter was supposed to appear in court on Nov. 11, but she did not appear.
"We don't even know if she's still alive," her parents said.
Father Saleh Diego, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi and director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), wants the Pakistan government and courts to prevent such kidnappings and to ensure those responsible be brought to justice as soon as possible.
Tabasum, a local Christian attorney, says the case offends the Christian community as a whole. "These sacrilegious acts are against the concept of interfaith harmony and threaten society's multicultural fabric and sense of brotherhood. Minorities feel deeply wounded," she said.
The Younus family's tragic case is not uncommon in Pakistan.
According to International Christian Concern, in the first nine months of this year, there were 34 incidents of abduction, forced conversions, rape and assault against Christian women and girls in Pakistan, exhibiting the widespread vulnerability of Christian women in the country.
629 Pakistani Girls Sold as Brides to China
Cases that involve young girls like Younus have been rising over the past year in Pakistan.
In an exclusive report, The Associated Press recently discovered that 629 girls and women were taken from Pakistan and sold as brides to Chinese men. Many of those girls were Christians, easily exploited in Pakistan because of their minority status.
"Pakistan's Christian minority has become a new target of brokers who pay impoverished parents to marry off their daughters, some of them teenagers," the AP reports.
Some Pakistani investigators are trying to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country's poor and vulnerable. The list of victims is the most concrete figure yet for the number of women caught up in the trafficking schemes since 2018.
However, the Pakistani government has tried to curtail investigations, putting "immense pressure" on officials from the Federal Investigation Agency pursuing trafficking networks, said Saleem Iqbal, a Christian activist who has helped parents rescue several young girls from China and prevented others from being sent there.
"Some (FIA officials) were even transferred," Iqbal said in an interview. "When we talk to Pakistani rulers, they don't pay any attention."
Several officials said investigations into trafficking have slowed as investigators grow frustrated and Pakistani media are pushed to curb their reporting on trafficking. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they feared reprisals.
"No one is doing anything to help these girls," one of the officials said. "The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won't follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now."
He said he was speaking out "because I have to live with myself. Where is our humanity?"
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