Published: 12:00 GMT Standard Time - Tuesday 24 January 2012
Christian woman in Pakistan escapes Muslim captor after ten-year ordeal
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
|Nadia Naira was seized at gunpoint|
A young Christian woman in Pakistan who was kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to her Muslim abductor has escaped after more than ten years in captivity.
Nadia Naira was aged 15 when she was seized at gunpoint by a Muslim man on 11 February 2001, from Mariamabad village in the district of Sheikhupura, Punjab province.
After two days of my kidnapping, [he] without my consent and at gunpoint forcibly converted me into Islam and I was given a Muslim name as Ayesha. Later he forcibly conducted a Muslim Nikha (marriage) and again he did not bother to ask for my free will.
Nadia’s parents immediately reported the incident to the police, but though officers registered a case against the accused, they refused to arrest him. The family then took the matter before the Lahore High Court.
Nadia was threatened by her “husband” that if she made a statement against him, he would kill both her and her parents. Fearing for their safety, Nadia told the judge that she had not been kidnapped and had embraced both Islam and her husband of her own free will.
Thus Nadia was cut off from her family and trapped with the man, who already had a wife and ten children. He became violent towards her and a drug addict. She gave birth to five of his children, now aged between nine years and six months old.
On 30 November 2011, Nadia eventually managed to escape and went back to her parents. Her husband, along with six accomplices, came and demanded she be returned to him. They threatened the family with death and also that they would kidnap Nadia’s younger sisters if she was not returned.
The distressed family sought help on 16 January from CLAAS, a Pakistani Christian legal organisation supported by Barnabas Fund, who immediately provided shelter for Nadia and one of her younger sisters. They also filed a criminal case against her husband and his accomplices.
The abduction, forced conversion and marriage of Christian girls is an all too common scenario in Pakistan; it is estimated that there are over 700 cases of abduction and forced marriage of Christian girls to Muslim men every year. The violations are often carried out by influential Muslim families, who threaten and severely beat the young girls to frighten them into compliance. The authorities rarely take action, and often the young girls never return to their families unless they manage to escape their captors.