Maira Shahbaz who was abducted on Sunday afternoon of 26th April 2020, and forcefully married to a Muslim man, has succeeded in escaping her abductor’s custody and fled into hiding with her mother and three siblings in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
She managed to escape her abductor on Aug. 18 2020, after the Lahore High Court handed over the girl announcing her marriage legal with her abductor and ordered her to be returned to his custody.
The whole family is getting threats from her abductor and therefore they left their house and are changing their location every few days.
Maira Shahbaz in her video message has confirmed by stating that I am a 14 years old, from Madina Town, Faisalabad, I was abducted and later forced to sign on plain documents and later I was told that I have accepted Islam and have become a Muslim. They pressurized me and made my video and said they will upload them if I will not do what they say, they also told me that you have married with Nakash and there is no way to go back. They also threaten me about my family and relatives that they will kill them. But I am thankful to God, Adv. Sumera, my lawyer, Mr. Naveed Jeeva, and Bishop Indrias Iftikhar who gave me protection. I appeal to Government of Pakistan to please take action on my case and grant me protection.
Maira, a young Catholic Gospel singer of aged 14, from Maskeenabad, Madina Town, was abducted by Mr. Muhammad Nakash who is already married and has two children. Nakash came along with his other 3 Muslim friends kidnapped Maira on gunpoint, on Sunday afternoon of 26th April 2020.
After the abduction, Nakash converted Maira to Islam forcefully and married her. Her mother Nighat got fainted and was taken to hospital in Faisalabad suffering shock but registered FIR against her abduction. Nighat also claimed the marriage to Nakash was invalid because she is only 14-years-old.
On 5th May 2020, all the evidences, related to Maira’s birth, including official church and her previous school documents which she already left because of poverty were presented before the court, stating that she is just 14 years old, a minor girl, but the Faisalabad Magistrates’ Court ruled in favor of Mohamad Nakash and declared her is 19, and said that her marriage to a Muslim man is valid.
On August 4, the ruling of the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court was overturned by Judge Raja Muhammad Shahid Abbasi of the Lahore High Court. Judge Abbasi reportedly ruled in favor of Nakash because the court found that Shahbaz had converted to Islam. Witnesses in the court claim that Shahbaz was in tears when the ruling was announced.
“Maira left her school because the family was unable to pay her school fee and therefore, she even as a child of 14 years she had to work in order to support the family. But she loves and miss her beautiful voice singing Jesus songs, it is injustice to my sister, said: Saira, 16, elder sister of Maira.
Adv. Sumera Shafique of the Christian Lawyers Association of Pakistan has already filed a petition in the Rawalpindi Bench of Lahore High Court in which she has requested the cancellation of her marriage and her protection, over which a judge had ordered police to ensure her security. Maira has also recorded a statement to police on Aug. 28, and on the other hand, Nakash has registered a case alleging the kidnapping of his wife.
Mr. Naveed Amir Jeeva, a Christian member of the National Assembly Pakistan, while doing a press conference at the National Press Club, on Friday, had said that minorities in Pakistan are in grave danger due to forced conversions; such elements make minorities insecure.
There are number of girls like Maira, who are scared, we have been demanding for a long time that the government should take notice of these incidents and take action against those culprits and provide protection to minority girls, Mr. Amir, Member of National Assembly Pakistan, Added.