A 12-year-old girl, Maha, was kidnapped last week by her neighbour Muhammad Akmal and his mother.
As the youngest of five siblings, Maha stays at home while her brothers work with their father at a brick factory, and her sisters work with their mother as domestic servants. Her neighbours knew this and took advantage of the situation.
On 18 July when Akmal knew that Maha was alone at home, he and his mother knocked on her door. As soon as Maha opened the door, Akmal’s mother grabbed her and pushed her into a rickshaw.
Maha said in a statement: “It was so sudden and I couldn’t understand what was going on. Akmal’s mother put her hand on my mouth and threatened me, saying ‘don’t shout otherwise we will kill your brothers’ … I didn’t know what to do, I feared for my brothers because I love them so much.
“After some time, they stopped the rickshaw at an unknown place and told me to get out. They took me inside a house where a few people were already present. Akmal told me to put a thumbprint on a few papers, and I didn’t know what they were.
“Later, he told me ‘I have married you and you are my wife’. He also said that ‘you are no longer a Christian but a Muslim’.
“I didn’t know what to do, I was helpless and started crying because I missed my parents and my brothers and sisters. I was kept in a room and I didn’t even know the address of the house, because I mostly stayed home and was never left alone.
“I was scared, crying and praying anytime I was alone for my liberation, and yearning to go home.”
Asif Masih, Maha’s father, said: “When I returned home and could not find Maha, we started looking everywhere, and came to know that [our neighbour] Akmal had kidnapped her. I informed our contractor who promised to support me and we both visited the police station in Manawa, Lahore.
“The police filed a report against Akmal and assured me that if the girl was with Akmal’s family, then they would find her and bring her back.
“After a few days, the police found my daughter and handed her back to me. But they did not take any action against Akmal and now he is threatening me, saying that Maha is Muslim and has married him, therefore she cannot stay with us.
“I am poor and I want nothing other than justice. Pray for me and for my family.”
Source: CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement)
- Pray for Maha and her family as she recovers from the ordeal.
- Pray that the police will take a stand against forced marriages by bringing Akmal to justice.
- Pray for the protection of other Christian young women against kidnapping and forced marriage to Muslims.