Pak human rights watchdog raises concern over forced conversion of Hindu girls to Islam

April 15, 2019

Pakistan’s independent human rights watchdog on Monday raised concerns over increasing incidents of forced conversions and marriages of Hindu and Christian girls to Muslim men every year.

In its annual report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that the government has done little to stop forced marriages and urged the lawmakers to pass effective legislations to end the practice.

“Violence against women and girls — including rape, so-called honour killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage remains a serious problem. Around 1,000 cases of honour killings are reported every year,” the report said.

The report further stated that early marriage remains a serious problem, with around 21 per cent of girls in Pakistan marrying before the age of 18, and three per cent marrying before reaching the age of 15.

However, the report did not mention any authentic data on forced conversions and forced marriages of girls belonging to minority communities in the country.

The report came less than a week after the Islamabad High Court had declared that the two Hindu teenage sisters – Raveena (13) and Reena (15), were not forcibly converted from Hinduism to Islam, and permitted them to live with their spouses.

The two Hindu girls were allegedly abducted from their home in Daharki taluka of Ghotki district in Sindh province on the eve of Holi on March 20 and were allegedly converted to Islam.

The incident came to light after the girls’ father and brother revealed the details in videos that went viral on social media. In a separate video, however, the girls claimed that they accepted Islam out of their own free will.

The Sindh police had claimed last month that the two men were already married and had children from their previous marriages.

Following the incident, the members belonging to the Hindu community in Pakistan carried out massive demonstrations seeking strict action against those responsible for forced conversion and marriages of Hindu girls.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also ordered a probe to ascertain the facts. However, a five-member committee, constituted by the Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah, last Thursday had probed the matter and concluded that it was not a forced conversion.

During an earlier hearing, the court had directed the state to take over the custody of two girls and ensure their safety. It also claimed that the story of their forcible conversion was ‘fabricated’.

Earlier, India had shared its concerns through an official note to Pakistan’s Foreign Office over the incident.

Pakistan human rights activists had also claimed that the matter was another case of forced conversion and abduction, which is becoming increasingly common in the southern region of Sindh.

Source: Business-Standard

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