The kidnapping and forced conversion of 13-year-old Shakaina Masih is, unfortunately, yet another example of a phenomenon that is all too common in Pakistan. Kidnapping, forced conversion, and forced marriage of Christian and Hindu girls Pakistan takes place repeatedly, while authorities for the most part turn a blind eye or even side with the kidnappers. Most of the victims and their families charge that Pakistani authorities frequently refuse to help the victims at all.
Pakistan’s small and courageous Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this persecution as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians. The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, once again implores international human rights organizations to take action to protect Christian families in Pakistan.
For previous coverage of forced conversions and the persecution of Christians in Pakistan in general, see here.
“Another Christian Girl in Pakistan Kidnapped, Forcibly Converted,” Morning Star News, March 12, 2021:
LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Johnson Masih and his wife Samina were shocked when police in Lahore, Pakistan told them their 13-year-old daughter, missing since Feb. 19, had converted to Islam and married a Muslim.
A few days after registering a missing person report with police on Feb. 21, the investigating officer summoned them to the police station and showed them a Nikahnama (Islamic marriage certificate) issued by a cleric from Okara District, said Masih, a member of the Church of Pakistan.
“He said that Shakaina was now a married Muslim woman and did not want to return to her family,” Masih told Morning Star News. “According to the Nikahnama, her so-called husband’s name is Ali Bashir. We haven’t heard this name before. Shakaina is just a kid. She was kidnapped and taken to Okara, where they forcibly converted her and conducted the fake marriage to give it a religious cover.”
Their daughter had worked with her mother as domestic help at bungalows in Lahore’s Valencia Town locality. When Samina Masih went to pick up Shakaina from a house on Feb. 19, the residents told her the child had already left.
The girl’s mother called her other employers, who all said Shakaina was not there. She then informed her husband, and after they were unable to find her, they went to police.
“The police did not pay heed to our request for registration of an FIR [First Information Report],” Johnson Masih said. “The FIR was finally registered two days later, on Feb 21.”
Intercourse with a girl below the age of 16 is statutory rape in Pakistan, but in most cases a falsified conversion certificate and Islamic marriage certificate influence police to pardon kidnappers.
Masih said police ignored his repeated pleas to meet with his daughter.
“It’s been over 20 days that our daughter is in the custody of unknown abductors, yet we haven’t been able to see her,” he told Morning Star News. “We were just handed a photocopy of the Nikahnama and told to approach the court if we wanted to meet her. They also refused to act when we showed them her official birth record, according to which she’s just 13 and five months.”
Attorney Rana Abdul Hameed said he had petitioned the Lahore High Court and filed applications with senior police authorities for Shakaina’s recovery, but that police showed no interest in the case….
Pakistan ranked fifth on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.