Protests Erupt Over Alleged Abduction and Forced Marriage of Gilgit Girl: Calls for Swift Action and Justice

Protests Erupt Over Alleged Abduction and Forced Marriage of Gilgit Girl: Calls for Swift Action and Justice
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Eleonora Bruno

Pakistan Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

A 13-year-old underage girl from Gilgit, in Pakistan, disappeared from Sultanabad village four days ago. In Hunza, demonstrators gathered along the Karakoram Highway in Aliabad. Numerous activists from different political factions participated, brandishing placards demanding the girl's safe return and opposing her forced marriage. The Awami Workers Party (AWP) organised the protest against the alleged abduction and forced marriage. AWP senior leader Baba Jan accused the Gilgit-Baltistan police of shielding those responsible for the girl's abduction and forced marriage. He claimed the girl's father, a labourer, was facing pressure from both the police and the abductors. Jan threatened a significant protest at Ittehad Chowk in Gilgit if the police failed to act promptly to recover the girl. Ikram Baig Jamal, Akhun Bai, and others also addressed the gathering. Protesters urged immediate action to locate the girl, emphasising that any statements made by her were likely coerced. 

Meanwhile, civil society activists, child rights organisations, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, lawyers, journalists, and political party representatives staged another protest outside the National Press Club in Islamabad. They demanded the girl's swift recovery and a thorough investigation into the matter. The demonstrators questioned the role of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Rights Commission, as the illicit marriage reportedly took place in Mansehra district within that province. Additionally, the suspects sought transit bail at the Peshawar High Court, prompting the Child Rights Commission to investigate and rescue the child. 

A video circulated on social media by the alleged abductors claimed that the girl was married to a 17-year-old boy, a union not legally permissible under the Child Marriage Restraint Amendment Act 1929. Furthermore, the video depicted the girl as older than her actual age, contradicting her original Nadra-issued birth registration certificate. This story sheds light on the tragic reality of forced marriages in Pakistan. 

A group of United Nations human rights experts expressed deep concern over the increasing incidents of abductions, forced marriages, and conversions of girls from religious minorities in Pakistan. They emphasised that girls as young as 13 are being kidnapped, trafficked, forced into marriages with much older men, and coerced into converting to Islam. These acts often occur under the threat of violence. The experts urged the Pakistani government to take immediate action to prevent such practices and thoroughly investigate reported cases. They called on Pakistani authorities to enact and enforce legislation prohibiting forced conversions, forced and child marriages, kidnapping, and trafficking.

Sources and further readings:

[1] Jamil Nagri, ‘Protests held in Hunza, Islamabad against abduction, forced marriage of underage girl’ (, 25 March 2024) <> Accessed 25 March 2024.