(Voice of the Persecuted) Pakistani Christian Sneha, 14, of Bahar Colony, Lahore, who was kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to her kidnapper Zeeshan, has been recovered and reunited with her family.
Sneha is the youngest daughter of Sabir Masih and has two sisters and one older brother.
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She was a 9th grade student in the Franciscan Girls High School, Bahr colony Lahore but in the evening, she also attended a local academy for tuition to prepare for her final exams.
Sneha said in her statement that Zeeshan, a Muslim, used to tease her every day on her way back home from the academy and had persistently pressured her for friendship. Sneha constantly declined his request and told him that was not possible as she had to focus on her education and that they were of different religions. However, Zeeshan continued his unwelcome advances.
On the evening of January 14, 2020 while Sneha was returning home from the academy, Zeeshan tried forced her to go behind the building. But when she refused Zeeshan became violent. Sneha said that because she was alone, she was scared and he started pushing her. There was a vehicle parked in the street and he forcibly pushed her into it. Suddenly, six more young men got into the vehicle and started beating her.
They took her to an unknown place, where more men arrived and started beating and constantly raping her.
Sneha begged them to let her go home but they refused. One day they asked her to sign a few blank papers. When she refused they tortured her. Later she learned the documents included a marriage certificate and religion conversion certificate.
They threatened Sneha that if she told her family and gave their names, she would have to face severe consequences and they would do the same to her sisters.
Sneha’s father, Sabir Masih, reported her missing to police. The FIR (first information police report) was registered in Liaqatabad police station and the Session Court issued orders for the police to recover Sneha as soon as possible. After a few days, the police found Sneha on January 19, 2020 and brought her back to her parents. However, the police are favoring the Muslims kidnappers, which is a usual circumstance in Pakistan.
Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS-UK told Voice of the Persecuted that their partners are supporting Sneha’s family and providing free legal aid to them. He relayed that they have applied to the court for Sneha’s statement and have asked for her medical tests.
Sabir Masih and his family are receiving threats from the Muslim kidnappers who are pressuring the family not to proceed further and withdraw the case against them. The family has been moved to an unknown place, Mr Saeed shared.
Cases of Christian and Hindu girls’ being kidnapping, forced into conversion and marriage to their kidnappers, in order to cover the crime, are continuing to rise. That Sneha was returned to her parents is a rare case. Most girls are forced to remain with their Muslim abductors.
Even recently the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has termed forced conversion un-Islamic. Last July Prime Minister Imran Khan had termed the practice of forced conversions as “un-Islamic” and said there was no precedent in Islamic history for forcefully converting others. Christian and Hindu MPs like Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Naveed Amir Jeeva have raised this matter in the Parliament several times but there has been no further progress.
Mr Saeed said: “CLAAS and several other organisations have been reporting such cases regularly for the last several years in the national and international media. Unfortunately the Pakistani government has failed to take action to stop the forced conversion of under age Christian, Hindu and other minority girls.
He called on the international community and human rights organisations to play their role to end ongoing forced conversion in Pakistan.
Please pray for the protection of minority girls in Pakistan and healing for victims of such heinous crimes.