Afghanistan, Pakistan & Bangladesh News

Abductions of Hindu girls, forced conversions to Islam, on the rise in Pakistan

Bharti, A 15 year-old, is the 18th Hindu girl to have been reportedly abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and forced to marry a Muslim man, in the Lyari area of Karachi, a city in the south of Pakistan, the Express Tribune of India reported yesterday. The real number is probably much higher. In 2009, in the province of Sindh 18 Hindu girls had also been kidnapped.

The family of the teenage girl filed a complaint with Bhagdadi police station, and a court hearing has begun. On the first day of the hearing Bharti — who has been renamed Ayesha, apparently after the favorite wife of Islam’s prophet Mohammed — appeared “clad in a black ‘abaya’ ” and hardly acknowledged her parent’s presence.

According to The Times of India, her father “[Narain] Das brought a copy of the National Database and Registration Authority’s record, which states that his daughter is 15 years old. However, certificates of her conversion to Islam and her marriage claim she is 18.”

It is common in cases of child abduction and forced marriage for the age of the child bride to changed, and for the child to be made much older than is the case.

At the launch of its “Perils of Faith” report on the threats to minority religions in pakistan, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said “they kidnap girls who are younger than 15 but they say they are adults and that the girls have accepted Islam and been married of their own free will.”

The HRCP said that Hindus receive no support in pakistan, and that the “conversion issue is not acceptable, it has discouraged Hindus in Pakistan.”

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