A 13-year-old minor Christian girl converted to Islam in Pakistan

On March 13, 2024, in Basti Khaliq Pura, Multan, a distressing incident was reported involving 13-year-old Roshani Shakeel, a member of the Christian community. She was allegedly kidnapped, subjected to forced conversion to Islam, and subsequently married to her abductor, Muazzam Mazher.

Nazia Shakeel, the victim’s mother, recounted the sequence of events leading to her daughter’s disappearance. She described that Roshani went missing following a routine visit to a local supermarket near their residence in Basti Khaliq Pura. Upon realizing her daughter was not at home, Nazia Shakeel initiated a search, inquiring within the vicinity and examining the streets for any trace of Roshani.

According to eyewitness accounts, Muazzam Mazher, along with a cohort of individuals, is said to have arrived on a motorcycle and in a Suzuki Bolan vehicle. It is reported that they forcibly removed Roshani from her home to an undisclosed location.

In response to this alarming event, the family immediately complained with the local law enforcement authorities. A First Information Report (FIR) numbered 782/24 was filed at the Sital Mari Police Station in Multan, naming Muazzam Mazher as the principal suspect in the abduction of Roshani Shakeel.

Shakeel Masih, the father of Roshani, disclosed that the abduction was precipitated by the family’s rejection of a proposal to marry their daughter to a Muslim individual. The abductor purportedly issued a menacing ultimatum to the family, stating, “You have a beautiful daughter, and we will convert her to Islam,” in an attempt to coerce them into acquiescence. Despite the family’s steadfast refusal, Roshani was forcibly taken.

On March 15, two days following her disappearance, Muhammad Bilal Hateem, a Muslim individual from the locality, forwarded a marriage certificate to the parents of Roshani. The document purportedly confirmed her conversion to Islam and her subsequent marriage to Muazzam, suggesting that her parents were powerless to intervene.

The certificate, officiated by Imam Zahoor, inaccurately stated the girl’s age as 18 and registered her under the name Zehra Bibi. This alteration appears to have been done to legitimize the marriage in the official records.

Joseph Jansen, representing the Jubilee Campaign in the Netherlands, remarked on the strenuous efforts of Shakeel Masih in the pursuit of justice for his daughter. In a poignant demonstration of desperation, Masih resorted to selling personal belongings, including their bed, sofa, mobile phone, and bicycle, to finance the search for his daughter.

Shakeel’s experience sheds light on the profound systemic obstacles encountered by minority communities in their quest for justice. The grave infringements upon human rights observed in this case not only inflict profound distress on the affected individuals but also highlight the imperative need for stringent legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms. Such measures are essential to ensure the protection of the rights and dignity of every individual, irrespective of their gender, age, or religious beliefs.

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