The family of a Christian girl is fighting for her freedom after saying she was abducted at gunpoint, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man.
The Lahore High Court is to hear the case of Maira Shahbaz, 14, next week after a local court overturned an earlier ruling sanctioning her marriage to Mohamad Nakash, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) says.
Mr Nakash is accused of abducting the teenager at gunpoint from Madina Town, near Faisalabad, during the Covid-19 lockdown.
He is also accused of presenting the court with a false marriage certificate alleging to show that he and Maira married last October. He claims she was 19 at the time but her family have provided a birth certificate to show that she was 13.
The family’s lawyer, Lala Daniel, fears that she was being groomed by Mr Nakash to enter the sex industry.
She is now staying in a women’s refuge upon the orders of the Faisalabad district court until a verdict is reached in the case.
Mr Daniel said it was a “miracle” that the court had ordered Maira to leave Mr Nakash’s home.
“Developments over the past few days have been an answer to prayer and we are so grateful for everyone for their prayers in this case,” he said.
“But we need you to continue praying.
“Maira’s mother is still very sad. Her health is weak and she misses Maira very much.
“If the police and the courts know that people in the West are paying attention they will be under more pressure to follow the law rather than give into extremist groups who are not favourable to Christians.”
Lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu, who will represent Maira and her family in the Lahore High Court, said: “In terms of evidence to prove Maira is under age, we are on very solid ground with a birth certificate and other official documents.
“I am hopeful of a good outcome.”