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03/28/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Religious minority communities across Pakistan have expressed grave concern following reports of increased incidents of kidnappings and forced conversions to Islam. Just last week, a Hindu teenage girl from Pakistan’s Sindh province became the latest victim of this cruel practice.

On March 17, Mala Kumari Meghwar was abducted by four men at gunpoint in the village of Pitafi, located in the Badin district. Later, Mala’s kidnapper informed local reporters that Mala had converted to Islam “of her own free will” and had married him.

Across Pakistan, women and girls from religious minority communities are targeted by extremists for abduction and forced conversion. According to the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 girls and women, ranging in age between 12 and 25, are victimized by their cruel practice every year. Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities are most effected.

Last month, on February 25, Saima Iqbal, a Christian woman, was kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam on the outskirts of Islamabad. After several failed attempts to recover his wife, Saima’s husband, Naveed Iqbal, appealed to Pakistan’s prime minister in a Facebook video that went viral. Thanks to the wide coverage of Saima’s case, she was recovered from her kidnappers and returned to her husband and children.

Forced conversions to Islam remains one of the cruelest abuses suffered by Pakistan’s minority communities. Practitioners of this abuse often use rape and forced marriage as a means to cover up their crime. To compound the matter, the majority of victims claim that Pakistan’s police force is often unhelpful and regularly sides with the kidnappers because of their shared religious identity.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].