13-Year-Old Arzoo Raja Was Forcibly Converted & Married. Now, People Want Justice

By Maryam Khalid | 30 Oct, 2020

The Sindh court has handed the custody of 13-year-old Arzoo to her 44-year-old kidnapper, who forcibly converted her.

A 2014 report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP) suggests that around 1,000 women in Pakistan are forcibly converted every year (700 Christian and 300 Hindu). These figures are alarming on their own, and even more harrowing when a story unfolds before our very eyes.

 

Update (November 3, 2020): Spokesman for the Sindh Government, Murtaza Wahab announced last evening that 13-year-old Arzoo Raja had been recovered and sent to a shelter home. Earlier on November 2, Sindh High Court had ordered for Arzoo to be recovered and ensured that she is safely kept away from her alleged kidnapper.

In a video, Arzoo has claimed that she willingly converted to Islam and married the 44-year-old man and also claimed that she was 18 years old and not 13, therefore, of legal age to be married. Activist and her parents allege that she is being forced to make that statement.

 

A 13-year-old girl, Arzoo Raja became a victim of forced conversion when she was abducted by a 44-year-old man, Azhar Ali

The incident happened in Karachi where Azhar Ali kidnapped the child, forcibly converted her, and married her.

The predicament still doesn’t end here. The Sindh High Court has handed the custody of Arzoo to the same kidnapper, despite clear evidence that she was under-age

The court order blatantly states that Arzoo has converted to Islam and contracted marriage on her own ”free will”

The court also ordered the police not to arrest Azhar and the other persons nominated in the FIR by the girl’s family and to ensure the security of the couple.

Source: @bilalfqi/ Twitter

Her birth certificate issued by NADRA clearly states that she is merely a 13-year-old child

And a minor could easily be pressured into conversion and marriage.

Source: @bilalfqi/ Twitter

People are clearly outraged at this unjust decision

They are questioning the system that allows such breaches of human rights

Do we have my standing to demand justice internationally when such horrors occur back home?

This case is getting attention in the international community as well. Australian actor, Nathaniel Buzolic also shared the same on Instagram, demanding justice for Arzoo and many like her.

Source: @natebuzz/ Instagram
Source: @natebuzz/ Instagram

The white part of our flag stands for minorities as equal citizens of Pakistan. Arzoo’s case is one of the many cases of forced conversions in Pakistan, that is eventually brushed off under the rug. Basic empathy and humanity should dictate raising our voice against such obvious human rights violations. The authorities should actively work to make Pakistan a place where citizens do not feel threatened due to their faith. Till then, let’s raise our voice till Arzoo gets back to her family.

 

Editor’s note: the post has been updated to reflect the Sindh High Court ordered recovery of Arzoo Raja and the arrest of her alleged husband as well as the video statement by Arzoo claiming she is of marriageable age and converted of her free will.

 

I’m A Pakistani Hindu And This Is What I Think About My Country

 


Cover image via @bilalfqi/ @njtashu via Twitter

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