The Rights Groups including the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and Peoples’ Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) have urged the government bodies to alarming incidents involving underage marriages of Hindu and Christians girls urging these bodies to investigate cases and hold a collective inquiry of these human rights violations under the phenomenon of forced conversions.
In a joint communication, the Patron in Chief PCMR Justice (retd) Nasira Javed Iqbal and the Executive Director CSJ Peter Jacob have urged the Federal Ministry of Human Rights, Standing Committees on Human Rights of the Senate and National Assembly of Pakistan, the National Commission for Human Rights and One-Man Commission set up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to promptly respond to this issue.
The communication included the data of 39 cases of forced conversions reported between January and May 10, 2023. The 18 of the converted were below 18 years of age, and eight even below the 14, 2 above 18 years while the age of 11 victims was not reported or concealed, probably as they were minors too.
The data also revealed that two girls out of 39 managed to escape the captivity of their abductors while three were recovered by police and reunited with their families.
The remaining 34 continued to face the sufferings caused by the multiple crimes including abduction, forced marriages and infringement of their right to freedom of religion. In one case the brother of the girl Lali Kachhi (Mr. Lalo Kachhi) was killed by the abductors.
The communication further noted that 124 incidents during 2022 were reported which included 81 Hindu, 42 Christian and one Sikh. Among 78 girls in 2021, 76% were below 18 year of age and the age of 18% was not mentioned. The reported cases in the year 2022 increased of 59% from the previous year.
In 2019, the government had set up a Parliamentary Committee to Protect Minorities from forced conversions but it failed to consider the “Prohibition of Forced Conversions Bill 2021 in October 2021 and never met afterwards.
The organizations further urged the government to investigate each case individually, and hold a collective inquiry into the human rights violations under forced conversions, that should entail a proper legislation and rehabilitation of the victims.