A Pakistani Muslim man who abducted and entered into an Islamic marriage with a 13-year-old Christian girl has been released on bail by a court in Pakistan.
Ali Azhar, 44, said he had not violated Pakistan's laws against child marriage and child rape because Arzoo Raja, the 13-year-old girl, had attained puberty.
"There are good, bad and at times even dark days for justice," said Jibran Nasir, the lawyer representing Arzoo's parents, according to persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern.
Arzoo was allegedly abducted from her home in Karachi by Azhar, her neighbor, on October 13. Two days after Arzoo's parents reported it to the police, they were informed their daughter had converted to Islam and married Azhar.
Arzoo was eventually taken to a women's shelter and Azhar was arrested after a high court ordered the police to intervene on November 2.
The High Court in Sindh ruled Arzoo was a minor and the marriage with Azhar violated the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act on November 9. Arzoo returned to the women's shelter but refused to reunite with her family, insisting she freely chose to marry Azhar.
The High Court in Sindh has not dismissed criminal charges against Azhar. The court also ordered Arzoo to remain in a government shelter home until she turns 18.
Azhar would face life in prison or the death penalty if he is found guilty of rape.