On 13 October, Arzoo Raja was abducted from her family home. She was forced to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper, even though she was only 13 years old. On 5 November, a court ordered that her age be determined and in the interim, she be moved to a shelter.
In the latest developments, a court nullified her marriage, determining that she was too young to marry. When asked if she wanted to return to her home or to the shelter, she replied neither. The court then ordered that she be returned to the shelter for her protection and education.
Her captor, Syed Ali Azhar, has been charged with the sexual assault of a minor. The marriage officiant, two witnesses, and two lawyers have all been charged for their part in solemnising a child marriage. The courts also ruled that Arzoo is to stay in the state-run shelter until the age of 18, since she does not wish to return home.
The family’s lawyer believes that the young girl is reluctant to return home due to the “consistent brainwashing” she received from her kidnapper and some other community activists. Human rights workers are concerned that without her parent’s moral support, pressure will continue from the family of her kidnapper and other militant Islamic activists. A video has been released, demonstrating the devastating impact the situation is having on Arzoo’s parents.
The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPQulXSYlU4.
Sources: Morning Star News, Daily Pakistan, British Pakistani Christians, Herald Malaysia
- Praise God for the court’s judgements in this case. Pray that justice will be pursued on behalf of the many other young victims of forced abduction and marriage.
- Ask the Lord to administer much-needed spiritual and emotional healing to Arzoo and her family. Pray her relationships with her parents may be restored.
- Pray also for Arzoo’s physical healing, as she has recently tested positive for COVID-19.
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