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Girls abducted from Sindh married in Punjab, K-P: Raza


KARACHI:Sindh Minister for Women Development Shehla Raza said on Monday that organised groups were involved in abducting young girls from Sindh and taking them to Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to be married against their will.

The minister said this while addressing a crowded press conference alongside the parents of two kidnapped girls.

Unlike Sindh, there are no laws against child marriage in Punjab and K-P, the minister said referring to minimum age laws against marriage. Sindh has tried to enforce 18 years as the age of marriage. In Punjab, the legal age is 16. However, in most of the country where the majority is conservative, girls are sometimes married as soon as they hit puberty.

The case of a 15-year-old Karachi girl who was reported missing last year only to surface a few months later married in a town in Punjab brought renewed attention to child marriage laws in the country. Some claimed that the girl was abducted by a trafficking ring that coerced girls into staying in such forced relationship.

Raza made similar claims, saying the families were blackmailed, including from numbers registered in foreign countries.

She claimed that a major trafficking ring was involved in luring girls, including online, with promises of love and then sell them off as property.

She cited the case of the one of the missing girls whose parents were there. She said the abductors befriended the 12-year-old on a gaming application used on a cell phone. They enticed her with drugs and convinced her to steal jewelry and valuables from home. The girl went missing in January.

Raza added that the family was receiving extortion calls, with the family even given in to the demands. “However, the girl is yet to return.”

She said the laxity of laws in KP and Punjab meant teenage girls abducted from Sindh would be wedded in a “staged marriage”. For this, all the preparations from the cleric who solemnizes the marriage to witnesses are already prepared in advance.

She also quoted the case of a 13-year-old who had a digital courtship with the person on the other end of the line asking to marry the underage teenager. Upon refusal, the person kept calling from different numbers.

The girl went missing soon after and finally resurfaced in Lahore. In the meantime, the family was in constant contact with the man who had trapped the girl.

Raza said that the family recently received a video in which the girl was “tortured”. She said the girl, who was married to a Hafiz (memorizer) of the Holy Quran, was “tortured” on the pretext of exorcising a ghost.

She said the police in Punjab, KP and Sindh were exhibiting a lack of interest, adding that they were discouraging parents from registering cases.

Raza added that she would meet the Sindh police chief in the next couple of days to find out the reason behind the inaction in such cases. She added that she was in communication with Punjab’s interim chief minister, Mohsin Naqvi, as well.

Source: Express Tribune