Caught up in the frenzy of building bridges and belittling opponents, this government, like its predecessors, has failed to pay any attention to the rights of minorities in Pakistan.

As if forced conversions were not enough, the number of forced marriages of minority girls seems to be increasing too.

A report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan states that every year an estimated 1,000 women belonging to minority faiths are forced to convert and marry Muslim men. The report reveals that 700 of these women are Christian and 300 are Hindu.

The current government does not need to look too far to take note of what has been happening as the majority of Pakistan’s Christian population resides in Punjab, where most of these cases have been occurring.

What is it that drives such groups of men to abduct helpless women belonging to a different faith, convert them and then marry them against their will?


Also read: Forced faith or force of faith?


It definitely can’t be love and it certainly isn’t an effort to increase interfaith harmony either. I don’t think there is a dearth of single Muslim women in Pakistan so then, why subject these girls to this brutality? Does an abductor actually believe that the forceful conversion and marriage of a minority woman is his ticket to God’s good books? Does he not realise that he is not only abusing minority rights, but also women’s rights?

Unfortunately, as pointed out in the report, the underlying issue for the minority community remains a lack of education. Not having the same access as Muslims to educational institutions, Christians and Hindus were left behind as the rest of the population succeeded and went forward. Scanty representation in political parties and the government also hampered efforts to safeguard their rights.

The report states that, “Christian groups claim that discriminatory legislation and the exclusion of non-Muslims as equal citizens have encouraged hardline militant groups to target Christian communities.” Incidents such as those in Gojra and Peshawar are still fresh in the minds of these communities, who are beginning to give up hope that things will change.


Video | From temple to shrine: Forced conversions?


Where ensuring security from terrorists may require more sophisticated effort, securing women in their own homes should not be such a hard task. Imagine living in the constant fear of being kidnapped by some disillusioned man who believes abducting, converting and marrying a woman from a different religion may win him rewards in the afterlife.

If it’s not religious disillusionment then it’s simply an abuse of power. Knowing you can subject someone to this and get away with it is also a driving force for some men. Even if the families of these girls file reports, it is very seldom that the police will do anything about it. Even if the case goes to court, a woman in the captivity of her abductor will be too scared to admit she was forcibly kidnapped or married.

The legal system is thus failing the minorities every single day. The report appeals to the government to ensure adequate law enforcement and provision of security for the minorities.

But before security is provided and law is enforced, it may be useful to perhaps investigate the groups and individuals who are brainwashing others to believe there is nothing wrong in such actions.

If the police started reprimanding culprits in even a few such cases, it could lead to someone thinking twice before subjecting a woman through such pain. But until that doesn’t happen, belligerent men will continue destroying the fabric of this country in their own destructive ways.

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