The case of Arzoo Raja, the 13-year-old Christian girl kidnapped from her family home in the Santo António neighborhood of Karachi, Pakistan on 13 October has taken a bright turn as the Sindh Court on November 2, ordered the police to place the young woman in custody [at the women’s shelter Darul Aman] and present her at the hearing scheduled for next Thursday, November 5.
The magistrate also ordered a medical examination to determine the young woman’s age, since, according to the family, she will be only 13 years old, much less than the 18 years that are the legal limit imposed by law.
The kidnapping of Arzoo by an older Muslim man, 44, who allegedly forced her to convert to Islam and to marry, immediately aroused protests from the Christian community and organizations like Aid to the Church in Need.
Speaking with ACN, Joel Amir Sohatra, a former member of the Provincial Parliament of Punjab, said, “right now religious minorities are really threatened” in Pakistan, and the situation is getting worse by the day.
Amir Sohatra added that the Raja family is under threat and their safety of must be guaranteed, “We demand that the authorities guarantee the safety of Arzoo and her family, as they are already under threat.”
Sohatra, who led protest demonstrations in Faisalabad in which the Christian community called for the release not only of Arzoo but of all the abducted young women, assures ACN that “there are strong rumors that fanatics are threatening” Arzoo’s family, to abandon this process, ensuring that the girl “embraced Islam” .
Thursday will be the day of the verdict. The decision that the Court will take will certainly be relevant to all cases of young people from religious minorities kidnapped and forced to marry in Pakistan.
“We will wait until 5 November to see how the court will proceed with this matter,” says Joel Amir Sohatra. “Religious minorities are really threatened and are facing [times of] uncertainty in Pakistan …”