A scandal over the forced marriage of a 14-year-old Christian Pakistani girl, Huma Younus, has taken a new turn after the girl’s parents appealed to the international community, saying that they would seek justice in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Earlier, the lower Sindh High Court had ruled that the girl’s marriage to her abductor, Abdul Jabbar, was valid, as the teen has already had her first period, Independent Catholic News reported.
In a video message to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the girl’s parents begged for justice after Huma failed to appear in court on 3 February due to unspecified reasons, but the judge alleged that the girl had missed the hearing because she feared for her life, as Huma’s attorney Tabussum Yousa stated.
In accordance with Sharia law, Pakistan courts have ruled that men can marry underage girls as long as they have had their first period.— Natasha Fatah (@NatashaFatah) February 6, 2020
Huma Younus, 14, Catholic, was kidnapped, raped, converted to Islam and forced to marry her rapist #stopforcedconversions https://t.co/cbksYUFi4u pic.twitter.com/zlQJPOW1wQ
According to Asia News, the new court hearing was set for 4 March, as the judges have ordered the police to check the girl’s medical records to confirm that she was indeed underage, but still cited Sharia law as a justification for her marriage, even if it was proven that she was a minor.
“We believe that the government and the judges are delaying the decision because our girl is 14 years old. They want to wait for her to turn 18 and then close the case,” Huma Younus’ mother was quoted as saying.
The girl’s attorney also said that her parents feared that the results of Huma’s age test could be falsified, as they were sure that police officers were indirectly supporting the abductor and his family. Tabussum Yousa reportedly argued that the girl’s family submitted documents from her church and school confirming that she was 14 years old at the time of her marriage.
Huma Younus was allegedly abducted on 10 October 2019 and forced to convert from Catholicism to Islam and married off to her tormenter Abdul Jabbar.conversion and forced marriage of underage girls are not rare in Pakistan, despite contradicting the existing legislation, the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, that in 2014 forbid the marriage of anyone under 18 years of age.