The parents of Huma Younus – a Catholic girl allegedly kidnapped, raped, and forced to marry and convert to Islam – will take their campaign to secure her release to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the same court that freed Asia Bibi.
The news follows last week’s (19th March) hearing at the Sindh High Court where medical tests of Huma’s bones were released, indicating that she is 17 years of age.
The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act forbids marriage under the age of 18.
Huma’s mother, Nagheeno Younus, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that she thought the judges said she was 17 in order to speed up the time until they can say she is an adult, and therefore close the case.
She said: “This confirms what we have always believed. The judges are taking their time, waiting for her to reach the age of 18, so that they can close the case.
“By declaring my little girl is 17, it will be enough for them to wait a few months and then abandon her to her fate.”
Her parents claim she is 14 – which they back up with a birth certificate, baptismal certificate and testimony from her school – and that the marriage is invalid in line with the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act.
ACN is providing support so Huma’s family can take the case to the Supreme Court.
The family hope the court will rule in their favour, as it did in the Asia Bibi case in which the Christian woman’s death sentence on a charge of blasphemy was sensationally overturned in October 2018.
Alessandro Monteduro, National Director, ACN Italy, said: “Sadly, though, it has gone the way we feared. The first two levels of the judiciary have not given justice to Huma.
“But we are not giving up, and, together with her lawyer, Yousaf, we are going to take the case to the Supreme Court.
“This was the court which finally set Asia Bibi free, though her release seems not to bring about any change for the better for the religious minorities in Pakistan.”
Her parents say that Huma was kidnapped on 10th October 2019, forced to marry her abductor, Abdul Jabbar, and convert from Catholicism to Islam.
But on 3rd February the Sindh High Court in Karachi ruled that, in line with Shari‘a law, the marriage would be valid, provided Huma has passed her first menstrual cycle.
The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed in 2014 in order to stop forced marriages to minors in the province, primarily of Hindu and Christian girls, where it is prevalent.
Huma was summoned to appear in court on 3rd February and again on 19th March but on both occasions she did not appear.