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Christian girl in Pakistan faces legal battle over forced marriage

by Cara Bentley

Elisha was forced to marry Sagheer (also named Qadeer) Ismael, 25, who also raped her, in November 2017, according to CLAAS and the British Pakistani Christian Association.

In February this year, she gained her freedom after a court battle at the Islamabad High Court, following her father's efforts in which he showed the court marriage papers which faked her age, saying she was 18 when she was actually twelve.

Elisha's father, Iqbal Masih, had sold himself in servitude in order to pay for the legal fees to win her back. They were then supported by the British Pakistani Christian Association as well.

She returned back to her parents' but what is now unclear is whether this ruling will be put into overturned. 

The man who took her claims Elisha is an adult and capable of making her own choices, so Elisha was asked to make a statement in court about her wishes.

On 12th July, Elisha told the court: "I was compelled to do this marriage, truth be told, every one of my marks and thumbprints on my paperwork is phony.  Whilst I was in the hands of my captors I was forced to give my thumbprint on several documents, which I didn't know anything about nor could I read them" 

In court she began crying and told the judge she was compelled to marry and that her fingerprints on the marriage documents were false.

The family court judge delayed the verdict until 26th July when two applications were submitted.

One was made by the husband's lawyer, asking the court to give the custody of Elisha to his client. The other application was from Elisha's attorney stating her family had security concerns and would like measures be taken to ensure the safety of Elisha and her family.

The case has now been adjourned until 19 September 2018.

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