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Growing trend of kidnapped Christian brides in the Islamic world

Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power with President Morsi, Christian girls as young as twelve belonging to the Coptic and Catholic communities are kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. In spite of the Muslim Brotherhood being no longer in power, the trend continues.

"Before 2011 it affected perhaps a few girls in the whole of Egypt. But the numbers have grown into the thousands; they even warned us not to pursue the matter any further." Said Fayez, a Coptic lawyer and human rights activist told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Christian girls are forcibly married to muslims and converted; they can no longer convert back to Christianity under penalty of death. This is happening not only in Egypt but in all Middle East countries with large Christian populationsm such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, as well as in other predominantly muslim countries, such as Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria.

Jan. 10 (– The prosecution last September of a 15-year-old Christian girl who killed a bus driver after he allegedly tried to rape her has reignited debate over the treatment of women in Egypt’s legal system, including the practice of virginity tests and blaming victims of sexual violence.

In July, the teenager made headlines after she confessed to police that she stabbed to death a bus driver who she alleged had kidnapped her in a deserted rural area near Cairo and sought to sexually assault her at knife point. The girl said she tricked her alleged assailant, took away his knife, and stabbed him several times before running away.

Shortly after her arrest, the teenager was required to undergo a virginity test. “If she is not divorced, married or widowed and turned out not to be a virgin, she gets automatically labeled as indecent and deserving what she had gone through. The man is always presumed innocent. Yet, it is very logical in a country where more than 95% of women are sexually harassed, that we should start off by believing what the woman is saying,” said Mozn Hassan, founder of Nazra for Feminist Studies, a group that has long provided legal and psychological support to women who had to undergo a forced virginity test.

One of many Christian girls kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan, among many more trafficked to China as bridesMaybe worse is the case of Pakistani Christian women being trafficked to China as brides, as revealed by underground investigators. The Islamic authorities tend to look the other way. Investigators had a list revealed to the Associated Press, of 629 girls and women from across Pakistan who since 2018 had been allegedly trafficked to China and forced to marry Chinese men. Once there, many victims were isolated and physically and sexually abused. Others, investigators found, were forced into prostitution.

The exploitation was lucrative for the Chinese and Pakistanis involved. Less so for the impoverished families from Pakistan’s marginalized Christian community that the trafficking rings reportedly targeted, assuming they would be vulnerable and powerless to stop it.

Months after the investigation was revealed and the scandal spread beyond international borders, a court in Faisalabad acquitted 31 Chinese citizens charged with human trafficking. What was the largest case against the alleged trafficking ring had swiftly fallen apart: Pakistani media curbed its coverage, while several women originally set to testify suddenly refused “because they were either threatened or bribed into silence, according to a court official and a police investigator familiar with the case,” the AP reported.

There is a frightening number of young girls who commit suicide following their abduction.

Unfortunately, it seems that bringing an end to this extended practice in Islamic countries will be a slow process, even if and when international human rights institutions and organizations take action. If ever!