Minister for Minorities Affairs and Human Rights, Punjab, Kahleel Tahir Sindhu urged to take action and ensure rescue of a Christian girl Sana Shahid. 13-year-old, Christian girl has been forcefully given in marriage to a Muslim after abduction. This fake marriage enjoys no legal status as the abductee is under the legally permissible age of getting married.
Sana Shahid, daughter of Shahid John was abducted on November 9, 2015 while she was on her way to her school Government Girls Primary School, Mianapura, Sialkot. The abductor was identified as Waheed Akhtar, resident of Mohallah Kasayian, Rodes Road, Mianapura, Sialkot. Although, an FIR was registered the same day, but police have nothing for the girl’ recovery to this day.
Sana was forcefully converted by given in marriage to her abductor the same day, and thus the police showed reluctance in taking action against the abductor. Shortly a local court, also pronounced verdict in favor of the abductor ignoring official records of the girl presented by her father. Sana’ abduction has been tormenting to her family to such an extent that her father has contracted mental imbalance.
Followed by the abduction, and forced conversion Pakistan Minorities Teachers Alliance had written weighty letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, calling his attention towards the issue. The case as it is, a blatant breach of the Constitution of Pakistan.
According to the Birth Registration Certificate, issued by the government of Pakistan and her birth certificate issued by Saint Joseph Catholic Church Sialkot and her school leaving certificate issued by Government Girls Primary School, Mianapura, Sialkot; her date of birth is April 17, 2002, which means she was 13-year-old at the time of marriage which is illegal.
However, the marriage certificate presented by the abductor stated Sana was 18-years old which is proved wrong by the three official records. This forced marriage is a violation of:
1) Punjab Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act 2015
According to the Punjab Commission for Women Rights, it is a crime to marry a girl under the age of 16. Underage and forced marriage is punishable crime, carrying 6 months of prison and 50000 Rupees fine.
2) Section 365 B of Pakistan Penal Code
3) National Action Plan 2014, which prohibits “religious persecution and endorses protection of minorities.”
4) Article 20(a) of the Constitution of Pakistan – guaranteeing every citizen freedom and right to profess, practice and propagate his religion.
5) Article 25(a) of the Constitution of Pakistan- guaranteeing free of cost education to all children of the age of five to sixteen.
6) Article 35 of the Constitution of Pakistan guaranteeing- the State shall safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the minorities.
In the view of above mentioned points, which prove the court’s ruling in favor of the forced marriage and conversion is breach of the Constitution of Pakistan. Provincial Minister for Minorities Affairs and Human Rights Khaleel Tahir Sindhu is therefore, urged to take note of the matter and pursue apt course for Sana Shahid’ release.