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Estimated 700 Christian girls annually k...

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Estimated 700 Christian girls annually kidnapped and forcibly married to captors in Pakistan

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Estimated 700 Christian girls annually kidnapped and forcibly married to captors in Pakistan

Country/Region: South and East Asia, Pakistan

 Watch a video interview with our partners from CLAAS.
CLAAS-interview-4x3.jpg
Watch video interview with Joseph Francis and Katherine Sapna of CLAAS

The abduction and forced conversion to Islam of Christian girls who are then married against their will to their captors is a disturbing and growing trend in Pakistan; it is estimated that there are over 700 cases every year.

One of the latest incidents involved a 14-year-old girl, Mehek Rashid, who was kidnapped at gunpoint from her home in Shisharwali, Gujranwala, by a gang of five armed Muslim men. One of her abductors yelled that he would purify Mehek by converting her to Islam before marrying her. The local authorities are refusing to investigate the case, apparently because the assailants are from a prominent Muslim family.

It is sadly an all too familiar story in Pakistan, where a senior church leader has warned that the “the cases of forced conversion are rising at an alarming rate”.

In another recent case, a young Christian woman, Mariam Gill, was abducted on her way home from the market in Kahota by a Muslim businessman who had previously asked her to marry him and been refused. She was forcibly converted and married to her kidnapper. His actions were praised by the Muslim leader who conducted the ceremonies as “a pious act”.

The authorities initially refused to intervene; a local police officer said Mariam acted of “her own free will”. But after she was questioned by officials and told them that she had been abducted and forced to convert, they returned Mariam to her family. The young woman’s ordeal is not over, however; her kidnapper threatened “terrible consequences” if he did not get her back.   

Violence and rape

The forced conversions and marriages are often carried out by influential Muslim families who threaten and severely beat the young girls to frighten them into compliance, as seemingly happened in the case of Farah Hatim. The authorities rarely take action, and often the young girls never return to their families unless they manage to escape their captors. The girls are often raped and become pregnant, making it almost impossible for the courts to release them.

One father was told by police to “forget his daughters” after the two Christian sisters were abducted, raped and forcibly converted in Faisalabad in May.

Even when a captive does manage to escape, it is by no means the end of her suffering. If a woman leaves her new Muslim family and Islam to return to her Christian background, she is considered an apostate – even though she was forcibly converted – and is therefore liable to be killed.

Alfred Arifa, a 27-year-old Christian woman, is on the run with her family from the man who abducted her. She was drugged and kidnapped in May 2009; when Arifa revived, she was told that she had converted to Islam and married her captor. For over two years, she was locked in a house, constantly drugged and severely beaten, but she managed to escape last month. Her “husband” has threatened to kill her along with her entire family if she does not return to him.

Help for victims

Barnabas Fund supports a Pakistani Christian legal organisation, CLAAS, that helps women who are victims of kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage. Lawyers fight for cases to be taken up by the authorities and pursue justice for women in the courts. They also help the women to rebuild their lives; CLAAS has a rehabilitation centre, where women who have escaped from forced marriages can recover from their ordeal. Here, they are given opportunities to study, learn useful life skills and live normal lives as part of a loving Christian community.

 Watch a video interview with our partners from CLAAS.

Give Today

If you would like to help, please send your donation to project 41-645 (Pakistan – Christian lawyers helping abused Christians). Please click to donate online using our secure server.

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference41-645 (Pakistan – Christian lawyers helping abused Christians).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference41-645 (Pakistan – Christian lawyers helping abused Christians).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/645 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

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Estimated 700 Christian girls annually kidnapped and forcibly married to captors in Pakistan

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  • Praise God for the release of John Short, an Australian missionary who was detained in North Korea for distributing Christian leaflets. John, who is 75 and based in Hong Kong, was reported to security officials in Pyongyang after he was spotted leaving a Christian leaflet at a Buddhist temple, an act that is illegal in North Korea. Further Korean-language Christian pamphlets were subsequently found in his hotel room. John, who was released on 3 March after two weeks in custody, was required to sign a confession probably scripted by the authorities. Other foreign missionaries arrested in North Korea have been given long prison sentences. Give thanks to God that John has escaped further punishment, and pray for him as he recovers from his traumatic ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 12 hours ago

  • Pray for Barnabas Fund partners in South Sudan who have been supporting Christians forced from their homes by violence. Conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar in December and January displaced around 860,000 people. Churches were burned down and a number of pastors killed, while many people lost their belongings and were left destitute. Give thanks that churches in and around the capital, Juba, were able to provide food and other essentials to many families with help from Barnabas. Pray that they may continue to be salt and light in their country at this unstable time (Matthew 5:13-16), and that it will soon be safe for displaced Christians to return home. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for the residents of a mainly Christian village in Borno state, Northern Nigeria, in the aftermath of a horrific attack by Boko Haram militants on 15 February. Ask for God’s comfort for the relatives and friends of the 106 people in Izghe who were gunned down and slaughtered in their houses or in the open as they tried to flee. Pray for strength for the numerous residents who were wounded or whose properties were looted and torched. Pray too for the many Christians who fled into the neighbouring state after the attack, and ask that the Christian community in the North of Nigeria will be preserved in the face of Islamist violence. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Violent attacks by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram continue unabated in Northern Nigeria. On one horrendous day of violence on 26 January, at least 138 people were killed. A church in Wada Chakawa village in Adamawa state was targeted; the attackers locked the congregation inside and then detonated bombs, shooting and cutting the throats of people who tried to escape. They then went on a four-hour rampage in the village. Later the same day, Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state was burned to the ground. Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamic state, and Christians are among its main targets. Pray that the Nigerian authorities will succeed in containing its insurgency. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

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