London: A Muslim doctor forcefully converted a 13-year-old Christian girl to Islam to allow her to work in their family kitchen.
Munawar Masih, a Christian by faith, and his wife Mehtan Bibi from Muzaffargarh work with a local landlord for Rs. 8000 a month.
They have eight children: Neha 13, Sneha 11, Marriam 12, Anaya 7, Vishal, 9, Sagar 8, Prem,10 and Adeel, 6. It is very hard to survive for such a big family with such a low income.
Therefore, when someone told Masih that Dr Altaf was looking to employ two girls to work in his house, he agreed and sent his two older daughters, Neha and Sneha to work at Dr Altaf’s house.
Masih was told that Dr Altaf’s children were studying in higher education and his wife could not manage alone, therefore they were looking for help.
The girls would be given Rs. 10,000 per month and this would be a live-in job but the family could visit them occasionally.
But at the end of the month Dr Altaf handed Masih only Rs. 3000 instead of Rs. 10,000 telling him that the girls are too young, and he cannot pay them Rs. 10,000.
Neha and Sneha worked there for four years, during this time they started complaining about mistreatment by the family, who would swear at them and even physically assault them. The girls were being treated like slaves and were hardly allowed to meet their parents. They told the family that they wanted to go back home and live with their family, but Dr Altaf did not allow them to leave.
Both girls were missing their family. Sneha fell ill and wasn’t any help to Dr Altaf’s family therefore they agreed to send her back to her parents, but they were not willing to return Neha.
Masih requested that Dr Altaf return his oldest daughter too as he was not willing to leave her daughter behind, but Dr Altaf told him that Neha had embraced Islam therefore she could not live with him.
It was a shocking revelation for Masih and refused to accept it. Dr Altaf explained that since they were Muslims, it was not possible for them to allow any non-Muslim to enter the kitchen and touch their food items and kitchen utensils.
Dr Altaf dropped another bombshell on Masih, telling him they had mistakenly overpaid him, 275,000 (US$1,750) and until you pay it back, he won't be able to get his daughter back.
Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK said this is a criminal act but since the government is not paying any attention to such crimes happening every day with Christian and other religious minorities, people continue to commit such crimes with impunity.
He added: “Perhaps Pakistan is the only country where such crimes are happening on a daily basis under the cover of Islam. It cannot be justified at any cost that a young girl was converted to Islam against her will and without her parents’ knowledge and now she cannot be returned to her parents because her parents are Christians, and she cannot be allowed to live them.
This is the most egregious example of modern slavery and religious abuse. There is no room for such callous justification in modern society. Pakistan cannot continue in the dark ages of Islamic practices to enslave Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan.
“No such law exists in Pakistan under which any child can be converted to Islam and enslaved for life time in the name of Islam. It is a serious violation of local and international human rights laws, especially the convention on children Rights, Pakistan has ratified.”
He stressed that the government should immediately intervene and register a case against Dr Altaf and help the family to get their daughter back. Pakistan already has the worst record of human rights violations and mistreating its minorities, such cases can further harm Pakistan’s image and make things worse for the country at the international level. Pakistan is considered the fifth most dangerous country in the world for Christians, the EU has already issued warnings and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom(USCIRF) has designated Pakistan a country of particular concern (CPC) for violation of religious freedom.