Pakistan Upholds 13-Year-Old Girl’s Forced Marriage


“The Lahore High Court has upheld a ruling in Pakistan granting custody of a 13-year Christian girl to a Muslim accused of kidnapping her, forcibly marrying her and converting her to Islam. Setting aside her parents’ pleas that Nayab Gill was underage and hence could not legally marry or change her religion on her own, Justice Shahram Sarwar Chaudhry on Thursday (July 1) rejected the girl’s official birth documents showing she was 13, said her father, Shahid Gill. Her Roman Catholic father said the court instead accepted her claim, considered to be made under severe threats of harm to her and her family, that she was 19 years old and married 30-year-old Saddam Hayat, a married father of four children, after converting to Islam of her own free will in Gujranwala on May 20. ‘My daughter was brought to the court in police custody on July 1; over a dozen members of Hayat’s family were also accompanying them,’ Gill told Morning Star News. Gill said by phone from Gujranwala that the family’s lawyer was unable to argue the case professionally. ‘When Nayab claimed that she was 19 years old, I nudged the advocate to demand evidence in support of her claim, but he kept quiet,’ Gill told Morning Star News. ‘He also did not demand medical tests of my child to determine her exact age.’ The judge also could have sent her to a women’s shelter to have some time away from the accused’s influence and reconsider her decision, but the attorney did not make the request, Gill said.”

“High Court,” Morning Star News, July 7, 2021