Protests held against abduction, forced marriage of underage girl

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Protest demonstrations were held in Hunza and Islamabad on 24 March 2024 against alleged abduction and forced marriage of an underage girl belonging to Gilgit.

The 13-year-old went missing from Sultanabad village in Gilgit four days ago.

In Hunza, the protest was held at Karakoram Highway in Aliabad. A large number of activists from various political parties participated in the demonstration. The protesters were holding placards inscribed with demands for the recovery of the girl without her being forced into marriage.

Awami Workers Party called the protest against the alleged abduction and forced marriage of the student.

AWP senior leader Baba Jan accused the Gilgit-Baltistan police of protecting those involved in the abduction and forced marriage of the underage girl. He said the girl’s father was a laborer due to which both the police and the alleged abductors were trying to pressure him. He threatened a large protest at Ittehad Chowk of Gilgit if the police did not show seriousness and recover the girl.

Ikram Baig Jamal, Akhun Bai and others also spoke on the occasion.

The protesters demanded that the girl be recovered immediately. They said forced statements were being made from the girl.

Meanwhile, civil society activists, child rights organizations’, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, lawyers, journalists and representatives of political parties held another protest outside the National Press Club in Islamabad and demanded immediate recovery of the girl. They also called for transparent investigation into the case.

The protesters questioned the role of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Rights Commission as the unlawful marriage was solemnised in Mansehra district of the province.

Moreover, the suspects also applied for a transit bail at Peshawar High Court which makes it mandatory for the Child Rights Commission to investigate, respond and rescue the child.

A video posted on social media by the alleged abductors of the girl claimed that she was married to a 17-year-old boy. This age is also not legal for marriage under Child Marriage Restraint Amendment Act 1929.

Furthermore, in the video the suspects showed the girl older than her actual age contrary to her original Nadra issued birth registration certificate.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 25th March 2024.

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