An estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are kidnapped and forced to convert religion each year, according to human rights groups (Image: Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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A young girl who was allegedly abducted, raped repeatedly and forced to marry a man who kept her chained up in a cattle pen has been rescued, according to reports.
The 12-year-old – a Christian – was said to have been imprisoned by a 45-year-old Muslim man for five months, during which time she was forced to shovel dung all-day.
The girl was saved by police in Faisalabad, Pakistan last month, when she was found with cuts from the shackles on her ankles, reports The Telegraph.
Human rights groups have now taken up the case, the newspaper says, with it claimed an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are kidnapped and forced to convert religion each year.
The girl's family allege that they made repeated complaints to local authorities after the abduction on June 12, which were ignored for months.
Protests have been held in Pakistan previously over forced kidnappings and conversions
(Image: Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Her father said: '[She] has told me she was treated like a slave. She was forced to work all day, cleaning filth in a cattle yard. 24-7, she was attached to a chain.'
He added that, despite making multiple complaints to the police, he was not able to file an official report until September and officers even made racial comments about him and threatened to charge him with blasphemy.
The father also criticised a court-commissioned medical report which found the girl was aged 16 or 17, even though her birth certificate states she is 12, reports say.
The victim has been placed in a women's refuge while investigations are ongoing.
Asia Bibi was sent to death row for blasphemy but was later acquitted
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Aid to the Church in Need says the case calls into question how Britain is spending its overseas aid, with more than £300million going to Pakistan.
The charity says the government should do more to tackle the persecution of Christians abroad – rather than support regimes where child marriage takes place.
Boris Johnson said in 2018 – before he was prime minister – that he would grant asylum to Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan who was charged with blasphemy and spent years on death row.
A Foreign Office spokesperson told the Telegraph: "Forcing women and girls into marriage is a serious abuse of human rights which robs them of the right to choose their own future.
"The UK leads the way in tackling this practice around the world."