Parents Battle Pakistani Justice System to Free 14-Year-Old Daughter Who Was Abducted and Forced Into Child Marriage
Save the Persecuted Christians Creates New ‘Warfare on Women’ Exhibit Telling Stories of Those Who Live Fractured Lives Because of Persecution
WASHINGTON—The Christian Post is reporting that the parents of a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl who was abducted last month and forced into an Islamic marriage are battling the justice system to free their daughter.
This is just one of many examples where girls and young women are kidnapped for the purpose of forced child marriage, says Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of persecuted Christians worldwide.
The girl, Benish Imran, has been missing since July 2, and her family is working with the U.K.-based charity Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement, which is dedicated to helping persecuted Christians in Pakistan. According to The Christian Post, under Pakistani law, unlawful marriages are punishable by up to seven years in prison. “However, the kidnapping and abduction of Christian and Hindu children by Muslim men remains a systemic problem.” Additionally, Pakistan’s penal code states that kidnapping occurs when a girl under the age of 16 is taken from a legal guardian without consent.
“Vulnerable, underage Christian girls like Benish, and their families, continue to fall prey to Muslims in Pakistan,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “The Pakistani courts, to our dismay, continue to set aside legal protections put in place to protect these innocent children. The U.S. administration must raise these concerns in every conversation with Pakistan. Pakistan must uphold the rights of its citizens and most especially its marginalized religious minorities.”
The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.
Through a new traveling exhibit called “Warfare on Women,” STPC is helping to tell the stories of the brave women and girls whose lives have been fractured by religious-based violence by being auctioned, beaten, kidnapped, raped and indentured, among many other atrocities.
“Women and children bear the brunt of heavy persecution afflicting an estimated 300 million Christians worldwide,” the opening banner in the exhibit reads. “Women are targeted increasingly for violence that punishes their faith, destroys their dignity, robs their identity and strikes fear in their communities. In a growing number of countries, Christian women face many forms of discrimination and violence including: restrictions on freedom of dress and movement, employment and legal discrimination, violent assault, widowhood, forced abortions or death of children, false accusations, sexual harassment, forced conversion and marriage, kidnapping, rape, human trafficking and murder. If they survive and return, brutalized women and girls often face shame and exclusion from their families and communities. This must end.”
Another panel titled “Brokered” depicts a heart-breaking photo of a Pakistani child-bride holding up the marriage certificate of her forced union with a Chinese national.
Stories of Chinese child-bride brokering have human rights organizations clamoring for greater protection of Pakistani’s vulnerable Christian girls. At 13, for example, according to one banner in the exhibit, Samia was returned to her Pakistani family so brutalized she died of her injuries. Chinese gangs enlist the help of Pakistani pastors to identify needy families. Girls sent to China are often sold as sex slaves by the “husbands.” Many end up stranded in China without hope. Unable to speak the language, they cannot even ask for help.
Save the Persecuted Christians also works to educate about persecution in Pakistan, China and other locations around the world through its exhibit titled “The People of the Cross,” another series of vertical traveling banners that feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as Syria, where Christian girls and women have also been sold into sex slavery; and Nigeria and East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent. A majority of the countries highlighted in the banners are high on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List.
In Pakistan, details the banners, blasphemy is enforced and is a capital offense under Sharia law. The charge, the banner reads, “is used as a convenient excuse for the Pakistani government and its Muslim citizens to target Christians—many of whom, like recently released Asia Bibi, are falsely accused of ‘insulting Islam’ and sentenced to death, either by execution or vigilante violence.” Meanwhile, in China, Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches are demolished.
“The People of the Cross” exhibit has toured the United States, reaching tens of thousands, and both “The People of the Cross” and “Warfare on Women” are available for churches, public venues and special events. To learn more about hosting either exhibit, contact Save the Persecuted Christians or visit the website, where panels are available to view online.
According to Aid to the Church in Need, which released its biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World in November, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (i.e., torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world’s Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.
Because most of these crimes are not covered in the media, Save the Persecuted Christians has developed a dedicated news aggregator—www.ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers with an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, such as Christians in Pakistan, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.