A Christian teenager in Pakistan was beaten, forced to convert to Islam and married off to a 45-year-old Muslim man, a disturbing new report has claimed.
Neha Pervaiz, a 15-year-old who lives in the Ittehad Town neighborhood of Karachi, recently told ucanews.com about how she was forced into an Islamic marriage last month when she went to her aunt’s house with the intent of taking care of a sick relative.
“I was taken by my aunt, a Muslim convert, to her house on April 28 to help her look after her sick son,” Pervaiz told ucanews.com, an outlet that exclusively covers Catholic news in Asia. “But there I was asked to marry a Muslim man named Imran. When I refused, they beat me up and threatened to kill my minor brother who was with me.”
Pervaiz alleged that she was taken to a room where she was raped by Imran, a divorcee.
“They then pressurized me to convert to Islam and marry Imran,” she added.
The next day, Pervaiz said that she was taken before an Islamic cleric, where she was forced to recite the Quran and was given a new name: Fatima. Then on April 30, Pervaiz said she was taken to a court where she was legally married to Imran.
With the help of her captor’s daughter, Pervaiz was able to escape from the home on May 5.
Pervaiz’s mother said she was completely unaware of the ordeal her daughter underwent: “I was shocked to learn what had happened to my daughter as I was under the impression that she was at her aunty’s house to help her,” Jamila Masih told the website.
In recent years, numerous reports have emerged of Christian women in Pakistan being abducted, raped and forced to marry their rapists. Oftentimes, the abducted girls are forced to convert to Islam, which makes their subsequent marriages legal under Pakistani law.
In 2014, the NGO Movement of Solidarity and Peace estimated that between 100 to 700 Christian girls are abducted, raped and forced into Islamic marriages in Pakistan every year.
In March, a 13-year-old Christian teen was abducted and forcefully converted to Islam. Now, her abductors are using the country’s legal system to keep her from returning home.
Last year, a 12-year-old Pakistani Christian girl was abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry her abductor, according to World Watch Monitor. When her father attempted to seek legal assistance, he was detained by police for “filing false charges” against her captor.
Eventually, the girl was returned home after she was unable to convince the court that she had willingly converted to Islam.
William Stark, regional manager for South Asia at ICC, told The Christian Post that oftentimes, rape is used as a “weapon to entrap victims.”
“For many women in Pakistan, securing a good marriage is the only way to secure a good life,” he said. “When these victimized women are raped, they feel trapped because it takes away their ability to secure a good marriage due to the shame associated with being a rape victim.
“Another disturbing element of forced conversion cases is the issue of custody. When abductors claim a victim has been married to them, especially when the victim is a woman, they maintain custody over their victim. This makes it especially difficult for Christian women who have been abducted, forcefully converted to Islam, and forcefully married to their abductors to provide testimony against their abductors.”
Pakistan, a 96 percent Muslim-majority country, ranks as the fifth worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA.