A teenage Pakistani Christian from Punjab has been kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to a 25-year-old Muslim man.
Local Muslim women known to Ribqa Masih’s family tricked the teenager into accompanying them on a trip to Sahiwal on 9 April. Instead of returning within two hours, as they had claimed they would, they took Ribqa to the town of Depalpur, around 30 miles east, where she was forcibly converted to Islam and compelled to marry a 25-year-old Muslim man.
Ribqa’s father, who works as a labourer, spotted his daughter being driven away in a car and tried to halt the vehicle. But two men travelling in the car got out and threatened him with guns. Ribqa’s abduction has been reported to police, but at the time of writing no arrests have been made.
Non-Muslim girls and young women in Pakistan are very vulnerable to kidnap, forced conversion and marriage to Muslims, and authorities rarely intervene. A report compiled by a Pakistani NGO in 2014 estimated that every year at least 700 Christian and 300 Hindu girls and young women in Pakistan suffer similar abuse.