A Christian girl in Pakistan was reunited with her family three weeks after she was reportedly abducted and forced to marry a Muslim.
According to International Christian Concern, the 13-year-old was reportedly abducted by 44-year-old Ali Azhar while she was playing outside of her home in Karachi.
The girl's parents immediately alerted police who launched an investigation. On Oct. 15, law enforcement officers informed the parents that their daughter "married" Azhar, claiming the 13-year-old child had willingly converted to Islam.
The family asserted that the marriage documents were falsified. The case went to court on Oct. 27 and the judge granted custody of the girl to Azhar.
As the news circulated around town, leaders within the Catholic Church in Pakistan and human rights activists argued that the young teenager was likely coerced to marry her abductor. A public protest ensued and demonstrators demanded that the courts intervene.
"It is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens, especially minor girls," said Joseph Arshad, a local archbishop.
On Nov. 2, the Sindh High Court ordered police to find the girl and she was located later on that same day. Azhar was arrested that evening and was due in court on Tuesday.
The young girl is currently in protective custody until a court hearing on Nov. 5.
The family's attorney M. Jibran Nasir tweeted: "Safest place for a child is with her parents. Hopefully, Court will return her to parents soon after next hearing."
Alhumdulillah #Arzoo has been traced & found & is being sent home to a shelter house as per Court Orders. Safest place for a child is with her parents when they aren't not the offenders of crime of child marriage. Hopefully Court will return her to parents soon after next hearing https://t.co/WH1Mua1rSD
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) November 2, 2020
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