A 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was abducted, forcibly married and repeatedly raped has escaped from her captor. Maira Shahbaz successfully fled the home of businessman Mohamad Nakash just weeks after the Lahore High Court ordered her to be returned to the home of her abductor to “be a good wife."
Shahbaz was kidnapped at gunpoint back on 28th April as she made her way home, before being forced to marry Nakash. Folllowing the abduction, Nakash insisted that Shahbaz had consented to the marriage, presented a fake marriage certificate and claimed the girl was 19 years old. In July, the Faisalabad District and Session Court rejected his claims and ordered that Shahbaz be released from the man's home and placed in a women's shelter.
However, the ruling was overturned by the Lahore High Court, arguing that Shahbaz had willingly converted to Islam and consented to her marriage. The court dismissed evidence from her family regarding her legal age and ordered that she be returned to Nakash to "be a good wife."
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Shahbaz then escaped and remains in an undisclosed location - it is estimated that more more than 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are abducted, forced into marriage and raped every year.
“The abduction of children from their families, who are then subdued and forced to become sex slaves, is absolutely horrifying," said CSW’s Founder and President Mervyn Thomas. "Their whole lives and future are robbed from them with no hope or opportunity to enjoy their fundamental human rights and live as free human beings."
Thomas added: "Those few who are fortunate to flee from their abductors continue to live in real fear and at constant risk of being recaptured. We urge the police and judiciary to dispense their duties with complete fairness in order to uphold the rule of law without prejudice and discrimination, and to take firm measures to investigate, prosecute and deliver just judicial precedents that will make all minority communities in Pakistan feel confident of the organs of state.”