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Forced conversion of women to Islam rampant in Pakistan: Report

Prime News, International, Religion, New Delhi, December 30:- The plight of thousands of girls from religious minorities who are forced to convert to Islam in Pakistan each year has once again been highlighted by a report done by an international news agency thus bringing in a further embarrassment to the Imran Khan government which already has had a forgettable 2020, especially the last few months.

The Associated Press from the United States listed several cases where Christian and Hindu girls were forcibly converted to Islam and married to men having children twice their age. “Forced conversions thrive unchecked on a money-making web that involves Islamic clerics who solemnize the marriages, magistrates who legalize the unions and corrupt local police who aid the culprits by refusing to investigate or sabotaging investigations, AP reporter Kathy Gannon quoted child protection activists as saying.

India Narrative has in the past few months brought to the fore the miserable condition of girls from minority communities of Pakistan who have been victims combating not just the Covid-19 pandemic but also the deep state forces. Bearing the brunt majorly are Sindhi Hindu families who have already been living in fear for decades.

The Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights organization based in Islamabad, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and several NGOs like the Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP) estimate that far more than 1000 women and girls are abducted, forcibly converted and then married off to their abductors every year in Pakistan. Volunteer group Responsible for Equality and Liberty estimates that more than 20 to 25 Hindu girls are forcibly converted every month. These figures have been listed for years and the actual numbers are believed to have risen alarmingly over the last 24 months.

According to the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), the most vulnerable areas for forced conversions in Sindh is the Thar region (Umerkot, Tharparkar and Mirpur Khas districts), Sanghar, Ghotki, and Jacobabad. Bonded labour and forced marriage are believed to be the two easiest ways to convert minorities to Islam. Most bonded labourers in Sindh belong to the Hindu minorities and are enslaved as a result of debts. WSC lists three factors sustaining this trend: social acceptance of the phenomenon (traditional authoritarian and hierarchical rural society), vulnerability due to extreme poverty and inequality, and the influence of powerful abusive landlords, which affect national levels of administration and constraining political force. (MR, Inputs:  Agencies).

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