Young Christian girl freed from forced marriage

Sadaf Khan, now 16 years of age, was abducted by a Muslim man and forcibly married to him. For two years she suffered terrible abuse at his hands and was not permitted to see her family. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of CSI’s local partner in Pakistan, Sadaf is now back home withher parents and has prospects for the future.

Sadaf was just 14 when Mubashir Abbas, a distant neighbor, abducted her from her home in Bahawalpur district on February 6, 2019. She was forcibly converted to Islam and married off the same day. 

With the help of CSI, Sadaf’s parents were able to afford a lawyer who took the case to court. At the hearing on June 5, 2020, their daughter appeared fully veiled. Her whole posture reflected her distress and worry. However, the judge did not even ask to see her face. The forged marriage certificate on which the girl’s age was recorded as 18 years was enough for him: the judge ruled in favor of Sadaf’s abductor.

The turnaround

But CSI’s local project partner, Anjum Paul, did not give up. He referred the case to a guardianship court, which looked more closely into the background of Sadaf’s marriage and did not allow itself to be intimidated by Abbas’s influential family. 

On April 30 of this year, the court confirmed that Sadaf had been forcibly married and that she should be returned to her parents immediately. Sadaf is indescribably happy to be back home with her family. 

After receiving psychological care, Sadaf began a six-month training course as a beautician in mid-August, funded by CSI. She is looking forward to learning a trade and being able to earn her own salary. 

Threatened with death

In an interview with CSI, Sadaf tells her harrowing story, “On the day I was abducted, I was taken to a room with many people. They told me to accept Islam. I did not want to. But they threatened to kill me and my parents If I did not.

“Under massive pressure, I accepted Islam. I was 14 years old when I was married against my will. During the two years of my imprisonment, I had to undergo five abortions. Although I was in severe pain, I never received any medical attention”.

Sadaf continues, “The man I was married to told me that he would soon marry another woman, a real Muslim. I had to do heavy housework from early in the morning until late at night and was always treated badly. During those two years, I wanted nothing more than to be with my parents and siblings. However, I was never allowed to visit my family and was constantly watched. 

“On the day of the court hearing, I was put in a niqab and threatened with death if I said that I had not converted to Islam and married of my own free will. I was not even allowed to greet my mother. On the day of my liberation, I felt like a bird that had been trapped in a cage for a long time and now can hardly believe that it is allowed to fly free again. I am so happy to be reunited with my parents”.

Through the donations it receives, CSI is able to fund legal aid for victims of forced marriage and Islamization in Pakistan like Sadaf.