Lahore (23 September 2022): The civil society groups have expressed their dismay over the miscarriage of justice as observed in the case of 13 years old girl victim of forced conversion and child marriage, Zaria Pervaiz. They expressed their disappointment over the lack of action against the oppressors and the non-recovery of a minor girl despite an FIR (No. 1189/22) under section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code was registered against Imran, Adiba, and their abettor Liaquat, with Sadiqabad Police Station in Rawalpindi on 1 May 2022. They demanded the recovery of a minor girl followed by giving custody to her parents, legal action against the abductors, and passage of a law to criminalize forced faith conversions.
They found the verdict of the honorable court in favor of the perpetrators unfortunate wherein the court dismissed the Habeas Corpus petition under section 491 of Cr. PC. (Criminal Procedure Code) and a writ petition filed under Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan, seeking recovery of Zarvia Pervaiz from illegal confinement. They observed that the court ignored the evidence presented by Zarvia’s family, which include; the transcription of the recorded phone calls of Zarvia to her family, wherein she unequivocally stated that “She was abducted, and married off and forcibly converted. She does not want to stay with her captors and wants to rejoin her parents. Her abductors threatened to kill her brothers and she was forced to make a statement in court under Section 164 of the Cr. P.C before the Magistrate in favor of the perpetrators.”
MPA Tariq Gill visited Zarvia’s family and expressed his grave concerns over the injustice the minority communities are experiencing in exercising their right to access justice. He condemned the inaction and inability of custodians of the law and justice to recover Zarvia and appealed to the honorable courts to apply the child marriage restraint act in cases involving minor girls. He made a pledge to raise his voice on the floor of the legislative assembly for the implementation of laws against child marriage, and for the introduction of legal protection against forced conversions.
The chairperson of the Voice for Justice, Joseph Jansen welcomed Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s remarks at a high-level meeting of the 77th UN general assembly session wherein he openly admitted that the government’s efforts remained unsuccessful in effectively addressing the barriers and challenges faced by minorities and Pakistan still has a long journey to go to see improved treatment towards minorities. However, he reiterated that persecuting and vilifying minorities, and fanning the flame of hate is not an active policy of the state of Pakistan, and it actively seeks to take legal, policy, and administrative measures to safeguard minorities’ rights.
He said that it is depressing that the legal provisions prohibiting child and forced marriages are not effectively applied by police, and the courts seem to be reluctant to ensure the right to equal protection, and the right to be treated fairly under the law, despite the existence of constitutional provisions, and progressive jurisprudence that should be relied upon for the delivery of justice. He demanded that the government must take meaningful and decisive action to put an end to forced conversion and child marriage of minority girls, and adopt practical measures to address discrimination, inequality, oppression, and injustice in all its forms.
A human rights activist, Nadia Stephen lamented that the injustice and lack of rule of law are becoming a trend in the country, which makes the girl victims from minority communities more vulnerable and make them face trauma for a lifetime. She added that minorities are losing their confidence in the law and justice system due to unfair treatment witnessed in the cases involving crimes of forced conversions and child marriage committed against minority girls. She demanded that the government authorities must make serious efforts to bring perpetrators to justice ensuring their neutrality in protecting the equal rights of citizens.