Pakistan court denies kidnapped Christian woman’s request to return to family

Christian devotees pray during a Good Friday Mass at the Saint Francis Church in Lahore on April 15, 2022.
Christian devotees pray during a Good Friday Mass at the Saint Francis Church in Lahore on April 15, 2022. | ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images

A court in Pakistan has ruled against a kidnapped Christian woman’s plea to return to her family. The woman, Adeeba Amjad, was abducted by her former Muslim employer on May 16 from her home, according to the rights group CLAAS-UK.

Amjad, a young Christian teacher, was abducted from her home in Pak Colony, Lassi Road, Hub in Baluchistan province, by Muhammad Bashir, her former employer and a local businessman, reads a statement by the group in the U.K., which focuses on the plight of Christians in Pakistan, sent to The Christian Post.

She was teaching at a local private school in Hub, which is owned by Bashir. Due to pandemic-induced financial difficulties, many teachers, including Adeeba, lost their jobs. Bashir offered alternative employment within his other businesses to several affected teachers.

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In 2022, Amjad’s parents arranged her engagement to a Christian young man, leading her to resign from her teaching position. Months later, Bashir abducted her.

Three days after the abduction, a police complaint was filed at the Bayroot Hub Police Station. However, the police investigation did not ensure her safe return.

Amjad’s father, Amjad Masih, was quoted as saying that a court has denied his daughter’s return home despite her confession statement about her abduction, where she expressed her desire to live with her parents.

The victim’s statement was tampered with by a female judge, CLAAS-UK said, adding that the judge, under questionable circumstances, declared her married and thus ineligible to return to her parents.

Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, expressed grave concerns over the judgment. After Amjad’s statement in court, imposing a decision against her will is legally unacceptable, he said.

Amjad has been in contact with her family, stating that she fears for her life and her family’s safety, the group said.

It’s not an isolated incident but part of a broader pattern that puts Christian and Hindu minor girls at great risk in Pakistan, Saeed said, explaining that they are subjected to abuse and sometimes even prostitution, often with kidnappers escaping punishment. The suffering of victims continues until they are allowed to return home, he stressed.

While both the Pakistani government and the courts are aware of this issue, the international community must play a more active role in ending their persecution, Saeed urged.

Last June, the parents of a 15-year-old Roman Catholic girl in Punjab province reported a similar abduction. The girl’s father, Nadeem Masih, a sanitation worker at a textile factory, said his daughter, Saba Masih, was abducted on May 20, 2022, from the Madina Town area of Faisalabad city when she was going to work with her older sister. The family promptly called the police, but there was no progress in the case.

A 2014 report by a local group, The Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, estimated that hundreds of women and girls from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities are abducted, forcibly married, and converted to Islam every year.

The U.S.-based International Christian Concern reported that religion is often injected into cases of sexual assault to place religious minority victims at a disadvantage. Perpetrators play upon religious biases to cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.

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