Islamabad, November 9
A Pakistan high court on Monday sent a minor Christian girl to a shelter home after she was allegedly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man.
Arzoo, 13, who is a resident of Karachi’s Railway Colony, went missing on October 13 and later it was found that she married Syed Ali Azhar, a 45-year-old Muslim man, after converting to Islam, according to the First Information Report registered by the girl’s father.
A Division Bench headed by Justice KK Agha in the Sindh High Court, where the case was being heard, ordered the provincial health secretary to constitute a special medical board to determine Arzoo’s age.
The board informed the SHC on Monday that the girl is between 14 to 15 years of age.
Though, according to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) record, she is 13 years old.
After the report the court ordered police to proceed against her alleged husband for violating the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act 2013.
However, Arzoo reiterated during the hearing that she was not kidnapped and had willingly married Azhar after converting to Islam.
The Bench observed that as per record and medical board, she was underage and could not contract a marriage on her own.
The court asked Arzoo if she wanted to go with her parents or to the shelter home, she insisted on going with Azhar.
But the court directed to send her to a shelter home of the government, and adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Activist and her lawyer Jibran Nasir tweeted that Arzoo was underage.
“Court recognises NADRA documents stating Arzoo’s age to be 13 as true and declares prima facie she contracted child marriage,” said Nasir.
He further said: “The court has not disposed of this petition and the next hearing is after two weeks. The court is yet to determine whether Arzoo is having her right to convert to the religion of free will given her age of 13. At this stage only the question of child marriage has been addressed and resolved.”
The alleged abduction, forced conversion and subsequent marriage had sparked an outcry from human rights groups in the country.
Forced conversion cases frequently rise in Sindh and mostly involve Hindu girls. PTI