A 14 year old child joins that ever increasing list of Christian girls to have been abducted, raped and forced into Islamic Marriage. After the father
sold his house so he could pay the legal costs for her freedom, he was shot dead by gunmen paid by the kidnappers.
Mehwish was hired as a domestic servant at the house of Zahid Iqbal (20 years) at Shadab Colony in Faisalabad on a part time basis, she and her mother
were both cleaning several homes. Mehiwish has been going to school until eighth grade but when the family could no longer afford to pay the school fees
they entered her into domestic servitude.
Image of Mehwish
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On the 12th March 2016, Mehwish’s parents were asked to send her to work for the full day as there was to be a party at Mr Iqbal’s house. Mehwish
did not return the next day as the family were advised it was too late in the evening to send her back.
Mehwish also failed to arrive the next day as she was helping to clear up the residual mess form the party. However the parents then received a shocking
letter in the post that included a copy of a marriage certificate of their young daughter to Mr Zahid Iqbal.
The parents of Mehwish tried several times to meet with Mehwish and were denied access to their daughter, or told she was running errands and not around.
With no other option available to him, her father Tanveer Masih, sold his home in the Faisalabad slum of Khalid Colony, to enable the family to pay legal
costs for her freedom. The legal representative forced local police to register a crime (FIR 259) under section 365b of the Pakistan Penal Code – 45 days
later. Section 365B is an amendment agreed under the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act, 2006.
| Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel for marriage etc.-
Whoever kidnaps or abducts any woman with intent that she may be compelled, or knowing it to be likely that she will be compelled, to
marry any person against her will, or in order that she may be forced, or seduced to illicit intercourse, or knowing it to be likely that
she will be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, and shall also he liable to fine; and
whoever by means of criminal intimidation as defined in this Code, or of abuse of authority or any other method of compulsion, induces
any woman to go from any place with intent that she may be, or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit
intercourse with another person shall also be punishable as aforesaid.”.
In response, on 30th May one of the cousins of Zahid Iqbal named Ayub (35 years) came to Tanveer’s house and asked him to drop the case and in return Mehwish
would be returned to the family. He apologized for the situation and asked for Tanveer to bring copies of the affidavit with him to a rendezvous point
at Chopaal village (where Ayub lives) 35 kilometres away from Faisalabad. He advised Tanveer that Mehwish was being detained there.
Ayub asked the father to come alone as asked him to come alone as Zahid Iqbal and his family feared that the Christian community, might try to capture
evidence of the return of the daughter and use it to press charges following the human transaction.
0n 31st May Tanveer travelled by motorcycle to the agreed meeting at Chopaal. On his way whilst passing through village 7 Chak (Chunchal Wala),
on Jhang Road, in Thikriwala, which is about 20 kilometres before the village of chopaal, he was shot dead by two unknown men on a motorcycle.
Seven bullets were driven through his body at close range and the legal documents he had with him were stolen.
Najma Bibi, Mehwish’s mother, spoke with BPCA’s officer Kanwal Amar, she said:
“The police have not done anything substantial to help my daughter, we now have no money to defend our rights and without my husband we have no voice. We live in a hopeless situation, we need help. I pray that my daughter will continue to place her hope in Jesus Christ.”
The murder victim is Tanveer Masih, 42, Najma Bibi’s husband and Mehwish’s father. He and his family lived in Khalid Colony slum. He worked as a rickshaw
driver. Whilst his eldest daughter looked after the house and the younger sisters, his mother and Mehwish served as domestic workers in private homes.
The family is now seeking help from the wider Christian community some charities are now covering the legal costs for the family. Which is fortunate for
the family as their legal action had to be re-started due the the original paperwork being in the name of the father. Sadly this mean t that the
original legal work paid for by sale of the family house was nullified.
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The family have holed themselves up in their home and are seeking help with food, rent for the home which now no longer belongs to the schooling of the
younger children. BPCA would like to help with these costs and his hoping to raise £4000 to pay for a safe house and the other costs this brave family
need help with. BPCA will over the period of a year resettle the family after finding them approved safe employment in the vicinity of the safe home.
If you would like to donate to this work please (click here)
BPCA officer Kanwal Amar, said:
“Since the shooting the father of Zahid Iqbal named Muhammed Iqbal, has given himself up to Theekri Wala police authorities (15th July) for questioning following the attempted arrest of his son and nephew. It is believed this is simply a ploy for him to deny all the charges and have the investigation dropped. The family are frightened for the future but are choosing to pursue justice whatever the cost. They are hoping that Christians in the west and wider will help support their cause they are frightened about the torture and the rape that their young daughter is undergoing. Nagma the mother of Mehwish has also expressed a desire for a pace of safety for her family. The shooting incident has caused great anxiety and trauma and they need a place to reassess their future while they recuperate.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“Muslim NGO ‘Movement of Solidarity and Peace’ in 2014 estimated 700 Christian girls are kidnapped raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year. That figure is said to be extremely conservative by Christian NGO’s and we continue to assert that many cases are unreported. People in the west express great consternation that little is done to seek justice for kidnapped daughters. Well here we see the result of taking action against the perpetrators – a father has been murdered. So many factors have to be taken into account during such incidents and I commend families who strive for justice, but equally I understand why so many choose to do nothing bearing the pain to save what is left of their families. Usually it will be the sons that are threatened but in this case the absence of sons meant the rapists could kill the father leaving the family without a patriarch and reciprocally without a voice.”
“This family have done everything within their remit to get justice for their daughter. The price has been extremely heavy including the sale of their own home and loss of a male patriarch. Now they need our support I hope Christians across the world choose to remember this family in their prayers as they continue to fight the good fight.”
- Pray for Justice for the family of Tanveer Masih
- Pray for freedom for Mehwish Masih and other victims of forced Islamic marriage
- Pray for an end to impunity for rapists who kidnap Christian girls in Pakistan and force them into Islamic marriage.
Image of murdered father Tanveer Masih
Copy Of FIR raised for abduction of Mehwish at Razabad Police Station
Marriage Certificate of Mehwish
Islamic Madrassa Certificate confirming Islamic conversion of Mehwish