Sindh police have added rape charges in the FIR [first information report] against the purported husband of teenage Christian girl Arzoo Raja who married the minor after forced proselytisation.
Along with Syed Ali Azhar, six other people, including two lawyers and justice of peace, were also booked in the case. They have been charged under Section 3 (punishment for male contracting party), Section 4 (punishment for solemnising a child marriage) and Section 5 (punishment for parent or guardian concerned in a child marriage) of the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act.
Azhar has also been charged with Section 375 (v) (sexual intercourse with a minor) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The brothers and a friend of the prime suspect were absolved of all charges for lack of evidence, whereas the kidnapping charge was also struck down following Arzoo’s denial, who has been sent to a shelter home by the court.
Meanwhile, a report in Geo News claimed that Arzoo Raja has tested positive for coronavirus and is in isolation at Panah Shelter Home.
Prime suspect Ali Azhar allegedly abducted Arzoo from Karachi’s Muhalla Railway Colony West Camp Road locality on Oct 13, according to the family, which registered a kidnapping case on the same day. On Oct 15 police summoned them to the local station and showed them documents claiming that Arzoo was 18 years old and had willingly converted to Islam to marry Azhar.
Subsequently, a plea was filed in the Sindh High Court and the court allowed Arzoo Raja to stay with her alleged husband. However, following an uproar, a review plea was filed and the court ordered the formation of a medical board to determine the age of the girl.
The medical board report found out that the girl was a teenager, strengthening the family’s claims that their girl was abducted was forced to convert for marriage.