December 30th, 2015: After the 9th Court hearing, Kajal’s parents decided not to pursue the case since the lengthy judicial process has shown that they would not be able to seek and obtain remedy for their grievance: abduction and forced conversion and marriage of their daughter. They lost their hope in getting back their daughter and their trust in the justice system. The extended trial period also put pressure on the parents due to their financial constraints.
Kajal is a child bride who is forced to stay with her abductor. Her family members do not know what conditions she is living in and obtaining justice through painfully slow judicial system is next to impossible. Like other minority families who lost their daughters to this cruel practice, they have no other choice but to accept his harsh reality and live with their grievance. GHRD calls on the Pakistani authorities for renewed action and commitment to end abduction and forced conversion and marriage of young girls from religious minority communities.
March 3rd, 2015: Kajal Bheel is once again denied a fair legal process and any meaningful justice as a result. Kajal’s hearing was again cancelled due to the inefficient scheduling of court proceedings.
This was the 9th hearing of Kajal’s case, to date, there is no verdict on the case. Meanwhile, Kajal still remains with her abductor, and it has now been 133 days. A new date for the next hearing has yet to be announced.
GHRD is gravely concerned that an underage girl is forced to stay with her abductor, without being able to contact her parents. GHRD condemns the practice of disregarding the victim’s age in such cases of forced conversions, and encourages the courts to send the victims to the shelter home or to her family free from psychological and physical abuse during the legal procedure.
In the light of persistent delays of the court proceedings, the credibility and commitment of the court to bring justice to Kajal Bheel remain under question.
The Pakistani Government is responsible for the failure to implement the necessary laws to protect minority groups and children, while the judicial system is also systematically failing to provide justice to girls like Kajal, her family and the community. The judiciary, responsible for handling cases within the reasonable time limit, has repeatedly failed to do so, thereby allowing for the culture of impunity to rule over religious minorities.
February 11th, 2015: Kajal Bheel’s hearing is again postponed. This is the 8th hearing and the 5th time that the hearing is postponed.
Since her abduction on 21st of October 2014, Kajal has been in the hands of the kidnappers. Both the abductor and Kajal were absent during the court hearing for unknown reasons. For the last 4 months the parents of Kajal Bheel have been fighting for their daughter and justice. Repeatedly, they have returned from the hearing disappointed and with even less trust in the legal system.
Kajal’s parents have eternal patience as they are doing everything in their power to hold their daughter in their hands again. The longer their daughter remains with the kidnapper, the smaller her chance to be reunited with her family is. The experience of the similar cases and the unnecessarily prolonged legal process casts a sad shadow on the prospects of success for Kajal and her parents.
GHRD is outraged by the prolonged legal process without a clear justification for the postponement time and again. Due to the dire economic situation, families are left with no choice but to accept the situation as it is and live their lives in realization that they will never see their daughter again.
The next hearing, the 9th hearing of the case, will be held on the 3rd of March.
January 26th, 2015: Kajal Bheel’s next hearing will be on the 11th of February. Global Human Rights Defence calls for the return of Kajal to her parents. We await the judge’s decision and will keep you updated on Kajal's 8th hearing.
January 19th, 2015: Kajal’s court hearing was postponed today. All court activity was suspended in Pakistan, due to strikes protesting against cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Kajal was at the court, but returned with her abductor. A new date for the hearing is expected within the next few days.
GHRD is outraged by the prolonged legal process during which Kajal is forced to stay with the perpetrator instead of being given the protection of a shelter home. The judge’s refusal to implement the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act in light of his improper application of Sharia law instead of Pakistani law is not legally grounded and, therefore, raises the concerns over judicial independence and impartiality.
December 19th, 2014: During the 5th High Court hearing the judge has postponed the next hearing until January 19th, 2015. The hearing had already been postponed 3 times prior to this day.
Kajal herself was not present for unknown reasons. The defence lawyer justified Kajal’s absence by the presumption that the case had been settled (for no particular reason). Except for the lawyer, no one from the perpetrator’s side was present. Kajal is presumed to remain with the perpetrator, although her whereabouts are currently unknown.
December 8th, 2014: The 4th court hearing is postponed until December 19th. Neither of the parties was allowed to speak in front of the judge.
December 1st, 2014: Kajal’s parents have to prove that according to Hindu Family Laws, Kajal is still a minor and, therefore, can go home to her family.
Result of 3rd High Court Hearing: The presiding Judge, Salahuddin Panhwar, is unable to take a decision and has removed himself from the case. The case will now be adjudicated by the Judge who presided over the first High Court Hearing, Zafar Ahmed Rajput.
November 20th, 2014: 2nd High Court hearing in Hyderabad. Kajal’s medical exam shows she is 17, still a minor under the constitution of Pakistan. The judge, Salahuddin Panhwar, chooses to apply Sharia Law instead, according to which Kajal is no longer a minor since she has reached puberty. Kajal stays with her abductor.
November 17th, 2014: 1st High Court hearing in Hyderabad. Kajal’s parents present legal proof of her age, yet the judge, Zafar Ahmed Rajput, requests a medical exam to verify whether she is a minor. Kajal stays with her abductor.
October 21st, 2014: Kajal Bheel (12 years old) is abducted from her home in Sindh, Pakistan. Later that day she was forcefully converted and married to one of her abductors, Mr. Muneer Dars (24 years old).