11/16/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Church leaders in Pakistan organized an awareness seminar in Karachi to help educate Christian women and girls about the issue of abduction, forced marriage, and forced conversion. According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, as many as 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls fall victim to this issue every year.
The event, which took place on November 13, was jointly organized by Caritas Pakistan’s Karachi chapter and the Catholic Women’s Organization in the Kasura Naizi Colony of Karachi. The goal of the seminar was to create awareness among Christians about the threat of abduction, forced marriage, and forced conversion. Christian women and girls participating in the seminar were also trained on measures they could take to protect themselves and their families.
“We must daily pray with all family members to spiritually strengthen and renew our faith in Jesus Christ and to fight against the forces of evil,” Tabassum Yousaf, a high court lawyer representing Arzoo Raja, told The Nation. “Although abduction of an individual for the purpose of forced marriage is a criminal offense in Pakistan, it is one of, if not the most, widespread reported crimes against women in the country.”
Many victims of abductions, forced marriages, and forced conversions are minors. Sexual assaults and fraudulent marriages are used by perpetrators to entrap victims and authorities are often complicit.
The issue of religion is injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.
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