Teenage girl’s ‘abduction’ triggers protests in Islamabad, GB districts

Nisar Abbas
Monday, Mar 25, 2024

SKARDU: The members of civil society, child rights organisations, human rights commission of Pakistan (HRCP), legal fraternity, journalist community and the representatives of political parties on Sunday gathered outside the National Press Club in Islamabad, Skardu and other districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, protesting the abduction of a 13-year-old girl who had gone missing from Sultanabad village of district Gilgit.

The protesters called for the recovery of the teenage girl and demanded transparent investigation into the incident.

They also questioned the role of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Rights Commission, citing the unlawful act of child marriage solemnised in Mansehra district in KP. They said that the accused had also applied for a transit bail at the Peshawar High Court, which makes it mandatory for the KP Child Rights Commission to investigate, respond and rescue the child.

It is pertinent to mention that the videos of the 13-year-old girl posted by the abductors on social media have shown that the teenage girl is married to a 17-year-old boy who has not yet attained the legal age of marriage as set in the Child Marriage Restraint Amendment Act 1929.

In addition, the abductors can be seen misstating the age of the missing girl contrary to the one mentioned in her Nadra-issued birth registration certificate.

The civil society and human rights organisations demanded for the swift recovery of both the children, adding that both of them are vulnerable to exploitation.

They demanded the authorities concerned to recover the teenage girl and present her in the court of law, employ authentic medical and legal methods to determine the age of the child, investigate the conduct of the Nikah reader and registrar, investigate the doctor to ascertain how she was able to determine the child’s age and issue a certificate, conduct transparent investigation into the serious allegations leveled by the child’s parents against certain police officials to ensure accountability, review legal and administrative arrangements in place to identify preventative measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur again in the future, and investigate why the police was unable to take any credible action despite registering the FIR.

The protesters, talking to the media, termed it a case of child abduction, internal child trafficking, child’s forced marriage. They also expressed deep concerns over the inability of Gilgit-Baltistan Police to recover the child even after the passage of 54 days of the incident.

The girl’s father said that his 13-year-old daughter was ‘abducted and married off’ without his consent, in violation of his religious, social, and legal norms. He said that he kept visiting the police station but it took longer than the expected time to register the FIR.

Although the FIR of the incident was registered on January 20, 2024 in the limits of Danyore Police Station, Gilgit, the police have failed to recover and produce the child in a court of law. The protesters said that Sakhi Ahmad Jan, the complainant, has leveled serious allegations against some police officials, which need to be investigated properly to ensure accountability of law enforcement agencies in the region.