An already married woman, Fouzia from Pattoki village, Punjab was abducted and forcibly married to a Muslim man in July 2015. While Fouzia’s family did all in their power to bring her back, Muhammad Nazir, the powerful landlord held Fouzia in captivity calling her his wife and refusing to return her to her family. Fouzia is already a mother of three.
Fouzia has managed to escape Muhammad Nazir’s captivity with the help of her family and has been taken under the protection of British Pakistani Christian Association.
“God has worked a miracle. I never thought I would see my sister again! Our whole family has grieved her loss as if she was dead,” Fouzia’s brother told BPCA. “Now, she is free [and] we will do whatever we can to make sure she is not forced backed into the depravity her Muslim captor subjected her to.”
After Fouzia’s escape, Nazir accused Fouzia of theft saying that she had stolen gold jewellery from his house. Police, enticed by Muhammad Nazir, who is already a father of eight, threatened Fouzia’s family to return her back to her so called husband and threatened to arrest any other member of Fouzia’s family if she is not turned in.
“If an adult son had been at home this would have been usual practice,” BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry told The Christian Post. “Fortunately, Paris was away with his sister and the father is seriously ill and disabled. It seems police left the father as there would be a serious risk of him dying under torture or false imprisonment. Fathers have been arrested previously when police are trying to capture sons.”
Fouzia and her family are poor farm workers and Muhammad Nazir is the landlord of the lands where Fouzia and her family works. On July 23, 2015, Fouzia was called for domestic help at Nazir’s house. Her family expected her back at home by the evening. When she had not returned, Fouzia’s family inquired about her. They were told that she would return the next day.
The next day, Muhammad Nazir told Fouzia’s family that Fouzia had been married to Muhammad Nazir and was now his wife so she was not to be sent back to her family.
When Fouzia was not returned despite any amount of pleas by her family, the family contacted a Christian lawyer who helped them register an FIR for the case.
According to the lawyer, “Cases like this are common, but in this case the abductor is a married man and the abducted Christian woman is also married”, and this element could save her. Usually, episodes like this proceed in the following manner: the family of the victim presents a complaint. The abductor lodges a counter-complaint affirming that the woman made a voluntary decision. In most cases the victims are minors, young adolescent girls. They suffer sexual violence, forced prostitution, domestic abuse and even sold to human traffickers”.
“Only rarely,” he added, “such cases end with the return of the girls to their original families.”
Fouzia’s brother talking about the injustice said, “We ask for the prayers and support from Christians everywhere.
There is a huge injustice happening in Pakistan and if you do not protect us and ignore our plight, one day it could be your daughters and sisters that are trapped. I pray Christians respond to our pain and offer help as we are desperate and need your assistance.”
Fouzia, along with her brother and youngest sister have been moved to a safe place by BPCA.