12/03/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), Christian leaders in Pakistan have thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for ordering an investigation into the forced conversion of women and girls from the country’s religious minority communities.
“The PM has ordered an investigation on a case-by-case basis of incidents of forced conversions of minor girls belonging to minority communities, particularly Christian and Hindu, to find reasons for this issue,” Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Religious Harmony, stated at a joint press conference on November 30. “Law and rights are equal for all. Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and daughters of minorities are our daughters as well.”
“Forced marriages, forced conversion of religion and abduction of underage girls of other religions in the name of marriages will not be tolerated,” Ashrafi continued. “The human rights ministry, in consultation with other stakeholders, is working out a mechanism to eliminate the fear of forced marriage among non-Muslims.”
According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted every year. Many of the victims 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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