Islamabad: Highlighting the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan, a human rights group in a fresh report laid bare the rising number of cases of abduction, forced faith conversion, forced and child marriage of girls belonging to the minority Christian community.
In the report titled ‘Conversion without Consent’, the Christian rights group detailed the poor situation of minority women in Pakistan. Rights group Voice for Justice (VFJ) and Jubilee Campaign jointly released the report on international human rights day.The report examined 100 reported cases involving abductions, forced faith conversions, forced and child marriage of girls and women from the Christian community across Pakistan.
In a statement, the chairperson of Voice for Justice, Joseph Jansen said the offence of sexual violence against minor minority girls goes unchecked under the guise of faith conversion and marriage. He observed that forced conversions are linked with the state’s abject failure to implement and enforce existing laws that aim to stymie abduction, child marriage and forced marriage, especially where the victims are from religious minority communities.
The executive director of the Jubilee Campaign, Annigje Buwalda said the report presents an analysis and findings about the confluence of intersecting vulnerabilities of minority girls and their families, exploitable legal loopholes, and irreconcilable court verdicts that make it so difficult for susceptible faith minority communities to protect themselves. She added that the report will serve as a vital tool to further galvanise action to eradicate forced conversions and child marriages in Pakistan and advance children’s rights.
According to the VFJ report, many cases are reported in Pakistan in which predominantly juvenile girls from religious minority communities are kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam, and married off to Muslim men, usually the very same perpetrators of their abductions. The report stated that there is a strong correlation between reports of forced conversion and child marriage.
“The perpetrators mostly manipulate the law and justice system to get away with their crimes due to the absence of legislation which deals with forced faith conversions, and the lack of enforcement of existing domestic law; this remains a key impediment in preventing such harmful and inhumane practices,” the report said.
It added that frequent reports of forced conversion are linked with the state’s abject failure to implement and enforce existing laws that aim to stymie abduction, child marriage, and forced marriage, especially where the victims are from religious minority communities. (ANI)