A Pakistani court has ordered the return of a Christian teenager who was abducted and forced into an Islamic marriage in March after the victim gave testimony of how she was beaten, tortured and raped, rights groups are reporting.
Shalet Masih, believed to be about 15-years-old, was rescued by a police raid at the home of her captor, Zafar Iqbal, last Wednesday morning, according to the London-based NGO British Pakistani Christian Association.
Masih was said to have been kidnapped on March 25 after leaving her family’s home in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third most populous city.
Although she left the home following an argument with her brother, Masih reportedly headed to a family friend’s house. However, BPCA reports that Masih was eventually sold into slavery by a neighbor of the family friend to a Muslim man.
After Masih’s family and NGOs pressured police to intervene, a woman by the name of Rukhsana was arrested.
According to BPCA, Rukhsana is alleged to have confessed to police that she sold Masih to a man who she knew to be involved in sex trafficking. However, the woman could not tell police where the girl was at that time.
About a week later, the family reportedly received what is said to be a fraudulent marriage certificate in the mail signifying that their daughter had married Iqbal and also converted to Islam.
Even though the raid was conducted before dawn last Wednesday, Iqbal is believed to have fled the home before police arrived and is still on the run. After officers secured Masih, she was allowed to call home to her parents. The parents later arrived at the location to see their daughter.
Later that morning, the family appeared in the Lahore High Court. Masih shared the details of her capture and forced marriage. She claimed that she was coerced into converting to Islam, forcibly raped, beaten and tortured. She told the judge that she wanted to return to her parents.
Justice Tariq Saleem Shaikh ruled that the girl be allowed to return to the legal custody of her parents. Lawyer Chaudhry Abdul Rasheed advocated on behalf of Masih.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith