A 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl, who was abducted at gunpoint and forced into marriage by a Muslim man, was returned to her kidnapper by the High Court in Lahore on 4 August, overturning an earlier court ruling that had placed her in a women’s shelter. The court ruled that Maria Shahbaz had willingly converted to Islam, was legally married to Mohammad Naqash and should be “a good wife” to him.

Maria was kidnapped close to her home in Madina Town, near Faisalabad, by Naqash on April 28, 2020. He and two accomplices fired gunshots into the air as they fled.

Maria’s parents challenged the validity of the marriage, which took place days later, and submitted her birth certificate to the Faisalabad District and Sessions Court to prove she was underage.

Naqash, who is already married, claimed Maria was aged 19 and they had married in October 2019. However, the Muslim cleric named in the certificate provided by Naqash denied any involvement.

Barnabas Fund