UK Government urged to express its concern about the case of 13 year old Arzoo Raja and similar cases of forced conversions and marriages of teenage girls from the religious minorities in Pakistan.

Oct 29, 2020 | News

13 year old Arzoo forced into a marriage with a 44 year old man

This is a video clip of Arzoo’s mother begging to see her daughter outside the court.  

Several questions arise from her case:

How can a 13 years old child who does not understand her own religion, decide in a couple of days to comprehensively understand Islam and convert overnight?

How was the marriage allowed between a 44 years old man and a 13 years old girl, while Pakistan’s ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929’ states that the minimum marriageable age in Pakistan is 16 and the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 stipulates that any party to marriage must be at least 18 years of age in Sindh?

Why did the Sindh High Court judge not look at the irrefutable evidence of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) birth record confirming her age to be 13 years old? 

Campaigners are asking whether the High Court decision has opened the way for child abusers to abduct, forcibly convert, and forcibly marry the minorities girls. 

The continuous reports of such cases will also have negative consequences for your praiseworthy policy of improving the literacy rates for young girls in Pakistan as the parents are more likely to keep their daughters at home to keep them safe.    

As became clear during a recent webinar, and from other reports which have been sent to the Government, this is NOT one-off incident; it is a regular occurrence for a lot of communities in Pakistan. These abductors are aided and abetted by the some members of the police, Law Enforcement Agencies and people with political power.

The unimaginable damage to such girls physically and psychologically, will probably take years to heal – if ever.

Furthermore, the messages sent to the religious minorities in Pakistan through such cases, and the connivance of the police and the judicial system, about their helplessness and unworthiness is, very well understood both by the culprits and victims of such heinous crimes.    

Arzoo’s distraught parents

Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

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