Date: August 13, 2021
Pakistani Christian rickshaw driver Gulzar Masih is appealing to police to take action after his 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped, converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man. The legal age for marriage in Pakistan is 16, except in the southern province of Sindh, where it is 18.
Gulzar reported his daughter missing on 28 July after he went to pick her up from school in Faisalabad, Punjab province, and could not find her. A few days later the kidnappers sent the family documents and a video of his daughter, Chashman Kanwal, claiming she converted of her own free will.
Chashman Kanwal shown in the video sent by her kidnappers, wearing Islamic-style clothing
Her alleged conversion was certified in a letter by Muhammad Ijaz Qadri, district president of the Sunni Tehreek organisation, who said she will in future be known by the Islamic name Aisha Bibi. Sunni Tehreek is an Islamist group known for its strong support of Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws and for the death penalty for “blasphemy”.
Gulzar said police have registered a First Information Report into his daughter’s disappearance but have failed to respond to his many questions.
The case is similar to that of 13-year-old Arzoo Raja who was kidnapped, pressurised into converting to Islam and forced into marriage with a Muslim man in his 40s in 2020. She was removed from her abductor by Pakistan’s High Court after a wave of protests.
Non-Muslim girls and young women in Pakistan are frequently kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam before being forced to marry a Muslim, but the authorities rarely intervene.