Nineteen days have passed since the news of the young Arzoo, daughter of Raja Lal, a Catholic Christian, missing from her home broke the internet. Her family knows exactly what happened to her but all their crying and complaining fell upon deaf ears. The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed the authorities to immediately recover Arzoo. It ordered to shift her to a shelter home.
Arzoo’s father filed an FIR on October 13 saying his daughter was kidnapped from her home. Her parents also filed a petition with the District South judicial magistrate. They asked the court to direct the police to recover the girl and produce her before the court.
They feared her being subjected to sexual violence. Hence, they wanted her to be put into the custody of a child protection institute In addition to this, the abductor allegedly forcefully converted the 13-year-old to Islam.
Later, the police found that she had been married to Syed Ali Azhar. He presented a nikkahnama, free-will affidavit, and a Sanad-e-Islam certificate. Moreover, the abductor, 44, maintained her age to be 18 years old. He also claimed that she willingly converted to Islam to marry him.
However, Arzoo’s parents argued in their application that consummation of child marriage is tantamount to statutory rape. Moreover, claimed it outlawed under Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code. As well as Section 5 of the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act 2006.
Turned out the abductor’s two brothers are employees with Sindh police
The nikkahnama did not have any particulars of her age or CNIC copy. It did not have a medical certificate as well. Both are needed to prove a person is 18. Earlier, the parents claimed that they approached the South Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP). However, no action was taken.
Later, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also took notice of the issue. In a message on Twitter, he said the Sindh government will approach the courts to review the case.
On October 29, a sessions court granted post-arrest bail to three suspects detained on charges of abducting the child. The men argued the SHC had restrained the police from arresting them.
The abductor’s two brothers Syed Shariq Ali and Syed Mohsin Ali and his friend Danish were detained. They are all reportedly police officials.
Her parents filed an application under rules 5, 8, 9 and 10 of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Rules, 2016, Section 6 of the Child Marriages Restraint Act, 2013 and Section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Arzoo to be shifted to a shelter home
On Monday, the Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said the SHC ordered to move Arzoo to a shelter home.
The development was confirmed by the activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir. He is part of the legal team fighting the case on behalf of Arzoo’s parents.
In addition to this, he claimed that he trusts the Sindh government. As well as the police to use all resources at their disposal to recover Arzoo.
Arzoo’s father had moved the application. Wherein, he pleaded with the court to send her to a shelter home instead of sending her with her alleged husband.
We hope this case becomes ground for a renewed focus on child rights in Pakistan, and the 13-year-old and her parents get justice!
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