Faisalabad: A 14 years old Pakistani girl Samra Bibi, was kidnapped by a Muslim man, Muhammad Ramiz, forcefully to convert to Islam and forced to marry him in what is but the latest in a long series of kidnappings and forced conversions of underaged minority girls, often got under threat and after sexual violence.
The president of the National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan, Robin Daniel, says he is “incapable to understand why these girls are treated just like a commodity, why they are not brought to court?”
“Because according to the law, no minor girl can be converted to any other religion but here no one has courage to challenge the radicals who are committing such crimes,” he told AsiaNews.
Munir Masih is a Christian from Rasulpura and the victim Samra is his daughter, near Faisalabad. On 16 September, she was taken away by her kidnapper and four accomplices; whereas her father and brother Shahzad were away for work.
Her brother saw her as she was being taken from the house and forced into a car with the abductors, but unsuccessful to reach the car before it sped off.
As Munir Masih approached the local police station to file a complaint, police officers refused to file a report for two days. Instead, the investigative officer, Abdul Rasheed, used an abusive language against him rather than take action to protect the girl’s safe return.
Only on 18 September, following the intervention of leaders of the local Christian community, did police start to hear witnesses?
The opening of the inquiries led to the arrest of Muhammad Ashfaq, one of the partners, who was released an hour later thanks to the payment of a bribe and to the pressures on police.
Munir complains that “Muhammad Ramiz had long set his sights on Christian girls and teased them. When they told him to stop, he used abusive language against them.
He kidnapped our underage girl when we were not at home. About ten days have passed and no one has been arrested.”
The family asked association for help from the Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP). The latter spoke with police and started legal action. The advocacy group hopes to bring Samra Bibi home; and see justice done.
“Some cases are passed off as a suicide attempt, like that of Nimrita Chandani, a young Hindu killed by some radicals.” As Nimrita’s brother confirmed that she did not suicide but was murdered according present evidences. In other cases, rescue is successful, “such as that of Jagjit Kaur, a young Sikh from Nankana Sahib, in Punjab, who returned home thanks to the intervention of the government after a media campaign”.
The case of the Sikh girl “shows that if the authorities take strong steps, they can do anything; everything is possible. Then why the same actions are not taken for all minority girls?” It’s really a big question!
“Sometimes courts seem to be more supportive of criminals. For example, in Samra’s case, the girl is 14, a childish who cannot be married; yet police intentionally wrote in their report that she is between 15 and 16 years. We will also challenge this aspect during the trial.”