Dua Zehra, the teenager who went missing from home, has filed a petition for protection from her father as her parents expressed fears she was being forced to make statements.
On Monday, her parents held a press conference in Karachi, saying that if they had not been married for 18 years, how could she be that old. They maintain she is underage and it was illegal for her to be married off. Her father Mehdi Kazmi said his nikkah nama is dated May 7, 2005.
Her parents have said that the nikkah nama or marriage certificate is not registered and thus not legal. "The nikkah is jaali," said her mother. "The nikkah khwan who is said to have conducted the nikkah says he never did."
"They can present as many witnesses as they like," she said.
Her father said that it would be best if Dua were taken into police custody, brought to the Child Protection unit and a proper investigation conducted. "The thing is that the child (bachi) is with them; they can get her to say anything," her father said.
Meanwhile, the Lahore police said they found Dua in Okara. She and her 'husband' were at the DPO's office. Dua has accused her father and cousin of trying to kidnap her. She filed a petition in a Lahore sessions court seeking protection against harassment, Saeed Baloch of Aaj News reported.
Earlier in the day, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah announced that Dua Zehra has been found in Lahore, while police claimed that they had her in protective custody.
Speaking to Aaj News, lawyer Jibran Nasir said "If police while investigating a complaint of child abduction finds the child (under 18) has been subjected to marriage, they must note that under the Pakistan Penal Code section 361kidnapping includes "enticement" when the girl is under 16. There is no such thing as "apni Marzi say gayi this" (the girl left on her own)."
Furthermore, he said if a girl is a minor from Sindh, her marriage will also automatically violate the Child Marriage Laws, hence making her a victim of a criminal offence.
"The police shouldn't take the nikah nama as a defence. Such contracts of marriage are void ab initio (having no legal effect from inception) in light of the recent IHC judgment," Nasir added.
Dua was allegedly abducted on April 16 from Korangi’s Golden Town area of Karachi in broad daylight after she went to dispose of garbage in the afternoon.
A police complaint was registered by Dua’s father on the same day. Initially, the police suspected that Dua had left on her own accord, a claim that was denied by her parents.
CCTV footage also surfaced, allegedly showing Dua leaving her house in the night, which the neighbours corroborated but the parents denied, especially since Dua went missing in daylight.
The SHO related to the case was suspended for sharing non-verified footage.
Police also found a girl in Sangardh that they initially claimed was Dua but it turned out to be another girl who was also missing.