Notice taken of alleged forced conversion, underage marriages of 2 minor girls in Ghotki: Fawad

Published March 23, 2019
The information minister said he would share more information when it became available. ─ APP/File
The information minister said he would share more information when it became available. ─ APP/File

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday said the government has taken notice of reports of the alleged forced conversion and underage marriages of two teenage girls in Ghotki.

The father and brother of the girls ─ who belong to a Hindu family ─ in videos circulating on social media say that the two sisters were abducted and forced into changing their religion from Hinduism to Islam. However, a separate video of the minor girls is also making rounds, in which they say that they accepted Islam of their own free will.

Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir was among those who raised the issue on Twitter, sharing a video which he said was of the two sisters, one aged 14 and the other 16.

In the video, a cleric can be seen next to the girls and two men who they were married to. The cleric says the girls were inspired by Islam and alleges that their family is spreading "false propaganda" and is threatening their lives.

Nasir said the sisters were converted at the Dargah Barchundi Sharif. "As per Dargah, girls wanted to convert to Islam since long influenced by its teachings, but first act after conversion was underage marriage," he said. The girls were reportedly taken to Rahim Yar Khan following their marriages.

Nasir also shared a copy of a first information report dated March 20, which was registered by the girls' family against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.

"FIR [registered] with local police for 'abducting to compel to marriage'. Age in FIR is 14 and 16," said Nasir. "Under Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Act, every citizen under 18 falls under definition of child and cant be married."

"Police has tried to dismiss the matter by citing a video of the two sisters in which they claim they will fully converted (sic) to Islam," Nasir said.

Chaudhry on Twitter said that the Human Rights Ministry had been "asked for an inquiry". The information minister said he would share more information when it became available.

The Ghotki police could not be reached on Saturday evening for a comment.

Most Hindu families in Pakistan live in Sindh and according to media reports, some 25 forced marriages take place every month in the Umerkot district.

Last year, prior to being elected, Imran Khan had pledged to safeguard the rights of minorities if "he came into power" and had announced that his government would take effective measures to prevent forced marriages of Hindu girls with Muslims.

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