Hoorab Masih went missing on 28 December after she failed to return from grocery shopping. It was soon discovered that the 12-year-old had been kidnapped by a local shopkeeper, Muhammad Mustafa, and his co-worker, Muhammad Usman, who then forcibly converted the Christian girl to Islam.
A few days later, Hoorab was found in a women’s shelter after the arrests of Mustafa and Usman. However, when the two men were released on bail, they disappeared, along with Hoorab.
Ultimately, Hoorab and her captors were found by the authorities and, on 17 February, the young girl was brought to court. After a statement was made that she had converted to Islam of her own free will and no longer wanted to live with her single-parent family, the court sent Hoorab to a women’s shelter where she was to live.
Hoorab’s father, Basharat, is a poor labourer whose wife passed away six months ago. He has since been raising their four children on his own. Not having the money to pursue legal action, Basharat is calling on governing officials to intercede.
The kidnapping and forcible conversion of young girls from religious minority groups is far too common in Pakistan. In the aftermath, some, like Hoorab, make false statements out of pressure from their kidnappers or others, or due to societal shame. Speaking of this particular case, Lala Robin Daniel, from the National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan, stated: “This is a very unfortunate situation for underage Christian girls and for their families. We don’t know when the government will realise and stop this ongoing situation.”