(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)
Mahnoor Ashraf - Photo: Morning Star News
Mahnoor Ashraf
Photo: Morning Star News

At least four Pakistani Christian girls have been kidnapped in the first two weeks of 2022, continuing a trend that has become increasingly prevalent across the country. In many cases, the abducted girls are forcibly converted to Islam, married to their kidnappers, and then held in captivity – an outcome justified by fraudulent marriage and conversion certificates. To read about previous instances, go to our country report.

In one recent case of abduction, an unnamed 16-year-old girl faced repeated harassment through text messages and phone calls, as 30-year-old Muhammad Arif tried to convince her to have sex with him. When the Christian teenager continued to refuse, she was kidnapped on January 7th by Arif and two other men, who took her from Okara, Punjab, to Faisalabad. There, she was repeatedly raped until the men finally released her. Due to the physical and psychological trauma she endured, the teen has been unable to speak about the situation. Her family has since filed a complaint and arrests of the perpetrators have been made.

A human rights activist named Ashiknaz Khokhar laments the distressing increase in the number of attacks against girls belonging to religious minorities and the abuses these victims are forced to endure. In this case, he is thankful for the swift response of the authorities: "We appreciate the police for their quick response and action in arresting the perpetrators of violence against a Christian teenager. It is essential to break the culture of impunity."

For 14-year-old Mahnoor Ashraf and her family, however, the devastating situation is ongoing. On the morning of January 4th, the Christian teenager journeyed from her home in Lahore to a local store with her young nephew. When he returned alone, the boy explained to the family that some people had taken Mahnoor. After investigating the case further, they discovered that she had been abducted by their neighbour, Muhammad Ali Khan Ghauri, and his three accomplices.

When the family went to confront Muhammad, they discovered that the married 45-year-old father of two was missing. Three days later, his family informed Mahnoor's parents that their daughter had converted to Islam and married her kidnapper. The family is pushing to have charges laid against all those involved, including Muhammad Ibrar, who solemnized the marriage despite knowing that Mahnoor was a minor. In order to justify the marriage, the certificate fraudulently indicated her age as 19.

The family understands that Mahnoor may have been pressured into a relationship with Muhammad Ghauri and, as a result, ultimately complied with him on her own accord. However, the courts rarely investigate whether declarations of consent are truly voluntary or the result of threats, psychological abuse and conditioning, or fear of social stigma. Furthermore, Mahnoor is a minor who is legally unable to marry. Though Pakistani law states that intercourse with any girl under 16 years of age is rape and thereby punishable by death, the courts have repeatedly upheld marriages to underaged girls because Islamic law holds that marriage is allowed once puberty is reached.

Please pray for the healing of the 16-year-old girl from Punjab, as she now tries to cope with the aftermath of the trauma, asking the "God of all comfort" to provide her greatly needed peace, as well as strength to overcome (2 Corinthians 1:3). Also pray for 14-year-old Mahnoor and the many other impressionable Pakistani girls who have been forced or coerced into abusive relationships, and yet are still being held captive by their abusers. Also prayerfully uphold the distraught families of these victimized teens as they seek to understand how to best support their daughters in the midst of this struggle. May the perpetrators responsible in each case be held legally accountable, and may the courts rightfully uphold laws that are intended to protect Pakistan's vulnerable young women and girls.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC partners to train Christian women in sewing skills throughout Pakistan to provide a sustainable source of income for their families and encourage them in their faith and witness for Christ.

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Women’s Ministry

Country Information

Population
238,181,034 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Punjabi (44.7), Pashtun [Pathan] (15.4), Sindhi (14.1), Saraiki (8.4) Muhajirs (7.6) Balochi (3.6), Other (6.3)

Religion (%)
Islam (96.5), Other - Christian and Hindu (3.5)

Leader
President Arif Alvi (2018)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Common law system with Islamic law influence

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Pakistan

Pray that amendments will be made to Pakistan's existing blasphemy laws so that the country's citizens – including its children – will be protected from injustice and abuse. May our Lord's mercy and justice prevail, not only in the judiciary system but also in the hearts of the country's militants. Ask Him to transform their "hearts of stone" into hearts that are receptive to His love, mercy and the workings of His Holy Spirit – not only for the purpose of protecting the Christian minority but also for the salvation of their own eternal souls.

end

Select a Region

Pakistan News

  • Two Teenage Girls Recently Kidnapped
    Young woman in a burka

    After more than two weeks of apparent investigative searching, police have been unable to find two Christian girls who were kidnapped on March 7th from the Christian colony of Ghaziabad Aorangi Town which is located within the capital city of Karachi. A Christian lawyer involved in the case stated t

    ...
  • Blasphemy Charges for Alleged Facebook Post
    Fansan Shahid
    Fansan Shahid
    Photo: Morning Star News

    Fansan Shahid, a 54-year-old Christian from Gujranwala in Punjab Province, is in federal custody with charges predicated on a blasphemous comment he allegedly made in a Facebook post during 2019. Fansan was arrested just after midnight on March 16th when more t

    ...
  • Young Christian Woman Kidnapped
    A large group of Christian protestors with signs, the most prominent one reading, ''Save the innocent minor girls of religious minorities from vultures... (remainder unreadable).''
    Christians protest the frequently occurring
    abductions and forced conversions in Pakistan.
    Photo: Wikipedia / Banksboomer (cc)

    Two years ago, Abida Mukhtar's husband died of a heart attack. Finding herself in need of assistance with necessary adjustments regarding his government pension, the griev

    ...