By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
The girl, Arzoo Raja, was kidnapped from her family home in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, on October 2020 at the age of 13, her family and rights investigators said.
Her Christian parents took legal action against her alleged abductor, named 44-year-old neighbor Ali Azhar.
Ultimately the courts nullified the young teen’s marriage due to her age. Worthy News usually doesn’t publish names of victims of possible sexual abuse unless agreed and already published publicly, as was the case with Arzoo.
However, “due to the coercion and pressure” from her kidnapper and others, “Arzoo initially did not want to return home,” said advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).
She was placed in a shelter while any access to the attacker was forbidden, according to Christians familiar with the case. Visits by her family and others were reportedly permitted only when requested by Arzoo.
YEAR AT SHELTER
“After spending a year at the shelter, Arzoo petitioned the court to allow her to move back into her family’s home. On December 22, the Sindh High Court ruled that she could return to her parents,” VOMC told Worthy News
“Any contact with her attacker, who has been charged under the country’s marriage and rape laws, continues to be forbidden. However, the perpetrator had previously been released on bail, and observers believe that the charges against him may likely be dropped,” the group added.
The court ruling relates only to custody and not Arzoo’s alleged conversion to Islam, Worthy News. The teenager allegedly told the court that she converted to Islam of her own free will.
“Therefore, her parents were required to sign an agreement stating that Arzoo would be allowed to practice Islam without interference. And that she is free to adopt her own life choices,” VOMC said.
The teen will be brought for meetings at the police station every three months till she turns 18 to ensure she is treated well and according to the court order, Christians explained.
CONCERNS STILL REMAIN
The lawyer representing the teen’s parents reportedly countered that if Arzoo wishes to return to the Christian faith of her family, she should legally be free to do so.
“However, depending on the court ruling, along with the reporting requirements, there are concerns that this legal option may not be made available to her,” VOMC cautioned.
Evangelical Christians argue that whoever believes in Jesus Christ, or Yeshua, is saved and has eternal life regardless of whether the person
was forced to convert to another religion.
Christians said that while they “thank God” for her return, prayers were still necessary “for her physical, emotional and spiritual healing” after the trauma.”
The case has underscored the pressure on Christian girls and young women in Pakistan, a heavily Islamic nation.
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