Naila’s story has a happy ending – what nearly happened is too awful to contemplate…
For Naila, it was a school day, like every other…
“My parents left at 6.30am as usual,” Naila remembers.
“After some time, I went to the shop to buy some stuff to cook breakfast for my brothers.”
However, her day took a shocking turn for the worse.
“When I reached there my Muslim friend Sidra was there. She called me over and we were good friends, so I had no hesitation. She asked me to sit in the van.”
“When I asked why, she began pushing me into the van.”
It was so sudden I couldn’t understand what was happening. When I looked around, I saw that her brother and their other cousins were already sitting in the van. When I asked them what they were doing they covered my mouth with a cloth, and I passed out. As I came to my senses, I found myself in another city, far from home.
I was taken into a house, where there was a Muslim Cleric. They asked me to recite the words of the Shahada that would convert me to Islam. When I did that, I was told I would be married against my will to Sidra’s brother Shakeel.
I refused to convert. I told them I would die, but I would never give up my religion. This enraged them, and they started threatening to kill my brothers if I didn’t convert.
“I refused many times, and then they decided to take me to Rawalpindi, another town. When we arrived in Lala Mousa, the road was blocked due to a religious procession, we were stuck and then a plan came to my mind. I told them I had to use the ladies’ room. They allowed me to go, and as soon as I approached the procession, I started shouting for help, pointing to the van.
“When I told them I was abducted, people ran to the van to grab them. Sidra and her family fled quickly and thank God I was saved.”
The strangers went on to phone her father and bought her a return ticket.
“At about midnight on the same day of my abduction I was back at the Sialkot Bus Station, where my family were waiting for me.”
This is a rare happy ending. Abduction and forced marriages are becoming more and more commonplace in Pakistan. Each one is a heartbreaking tragedy for the girl or young woman kidnapped, not to mention their family. Their daughters can end up permanently separated from their loved ones, in a violent abusive marriage with a much older man, or, worse, they can end up being trafficked into sexual slavery.
And what’s most shocking is that the family generally know full well, who has abducted their daughter. However, the police and authorities fail to act, even siding with the Muslim kidnappers.
CLAAS offers legal aid to make sure that the families have the chance to fight for their daughters’ safety. It also provides emotional support and protection when families are threatened – like Naila and her family, who are now in hiding from reprisals thanks to us.
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Support CLAAS and ensure that when another Naila is abducted, there is another happy ending to write about. The alternative is too unspeakable to allow.
With every blessing,
Director of CLAAS-UK.