LAHORE , Pakistan , July 20, 2021 ( Morning Star News ) – Efforts to end the abduction and forced conversion/marriage of minor Christian girls suffered a setback when the Supreme Court of Pakistan last week declined to intervene in the issue, sources said.
Supreme Court Justice Mushir Alam on Wednesday (July 14) rejected an appeal by a senior church leader for a constitutional petition to protect Christian girls from forcible conversion to Islam and marriage to Muslims.
“We had pinned our hopes on the Supreme Court for addressing this longstanding genuine grievance of the Pakistani Christians, but we are deeply disappointed and saddened by this decision,” Bishop Azad Marshall, moderator bishop of the Church of Pakistan and president of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan (NCCP), told Morning Star News. “The court has, however, stated in the order that it will take this issue up if we bring a specific case before it.”
Filed by renowned human rights lawyer Saif Ul Malook on behalf of Marshall, the petition stated that Pakistan accords a degree of permanence to the abduction and forcible conversion of Christian girls by allowing them to marry Muslims without ascertaining the pressures coming to bear on girls when they make declarations of consent before trial and high courts, nor taking into account their intellectual, emotional and social maturity. The petition asserted that courts fail to consider whether declarations of consent are voluntary or result from threats, psychological abuse and conditioning and fear of social stigma and rebuke.
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