Lahore: (The Edge Foundation) On May 31 a Pakistani court sent 13-year-old Christian girl, Nayab Gill with her abductor, Saddam Hussain, who already has three wives.
Nayab, a student of 9th grade was working at a beauty salon during the closure of her school in Pakistan, due to the pandemic.
She hoped to learn new skills and support her family but was secretly converted to Islam by her employer and his four daughters and his sister.
Nayab’s father, Shahid Masih Gill, who runs a small tailoring business from his home in Gujranwala, told our team he has three children - two daughters and one son.
Nayab is the middle child, with her sister older than her. Her date of birth is October 16th, 2007 and so she is 13 years and seven months old. But on her Islam conversion certificate, her age is falsely noted as 19.
Gill said because of the pandemic he has lost his business, and one day Hussain - known to him for some time because his daughters were his customers and running a beauty salon - offered to take Nayab on at his salon where she could be trained and paid too.
Hussain said Nayab would be treated as his own daughter and there was nothing to be worried about.
“But I didn’t know that he was planning to take my daughter away from me,” Gill said.
He added: “They brainwashed my daughter - she was a good Christian, but I don’t know how she was trapped by them.”
It had been decided that Hussain would pay Pak Rs. 10,000 salary each month equal to US $ 65 but he hardly stuck to this.
In the recent weeks Gill had noticed some changes in Nayab’s behaviour, and therefore stopped her going to work. Nayab started to behave weirdly and she was not mixing with her brother and sister.
Hussain used to pick Nayab up from her home and drop her back.
Hussain told Nayab that she was just like his other daughter.
During the free time when there were no customers, the family started to tell her about Islam and then convinced her that Christianity is a false religion and Islam is the best and true religion.
Nayab was convinced as several people were working hard to change her mind and thoughts about Islam, and slowly she started taking interest in Islamic teaching. Nayab was given some Islamic gifts like Jah-e-Namaz (a small piece of carpet on which Muslims offer their prayer) and tasbih (Islamic Rosary) and books. She was taught how to offer prayers five times in a day.
Gill said he was completely unaware and it all happened without his knowledge and his consent, which cannot be condoned or accepted at any cost in any society.
Converting any underage child to Islam or to any other religion without their parents’ consent is illegal.
Perhaps this kind of thing only happens in Pakistan and unfortunately the police and courts protect the culprits.
Gill said: “One night when we all were sleeping, Saddam Hussain with the support of his companions kidnapped Nayab and took her to an unknown place.
“When I complained to the police, the police arrested 16 members of the family they said that she is living in Darul Aman (a government shelter home).
On May 31 the police presented Nayab in the session court of Gujranwala, but the Session Judge Qaiser Jamil set aside all the facts and did not even consider her age and the fact she is not able to take such a big decision.
The judge sent the teenager with her abductor after seeing a statement from her saying she has converted to Islam of her own free will. He didn’t even bother to have a look at the age certificate issued by the government but considered her an adult aged 19 as noted on her false age certificate.
Crying, Gill said: “It is very unfortunate that being a Christian we are not considered an equal citizen of the country and the country’s laws are failing to protect us and even the police and courts side with the abductor in these cases.
“I am very grateful to The Edge Foundation who provided me with a lawyer and I am going to appeal in the high court against the session court’s decision and hope that I will get justice, that I’ll have my daughter back and the abductor will be punished appropriately.
Dr Naeem Saleem, Director of The Edge Foundation a Christian NGO, said: “I am very concerned because of the growing number of abduction and forced conversion cases of Christian minor girls in Pakistan.
“It is very unfair that Christian and Hindu girls are being taken away from their parents because they have given a statement saying they have converted to Islam of their own free will.
“But courts should follow the law and consider all the factors as most of the time the girls are threatened with their own and their families’ lives.
“Being a child, no girl alone can take such a big decision of changing her religion, and the courts must not accept underage girls’ statements.
“If the court cannot accept children’s statements in other cases, then how they can accept Christian girls’ statement in these cases?
“This is a growing issue of underage minority girls and the government must pay attention to this matter and take appropriate steps to stop the forced conversion of Christian and Hindu minor girls in Pakistan.
“Christian and Hindu parents don’t feel safe and are concerned for the future of their daughters, while the government is not paying any attention to this important matter.”