It has been estimated that 1000 women and girls from religious minorities are abducted, forcibly converted and then married off to their abductors every year (ref The Aurat Foundation and the Movement for Solidary and Peace (MSP)). Former vice-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Amarnath Motual, notes that 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted every month in Pakistan.
The volunteer group, Responsible for Equality and Liberty, also estimate that between 20 to 25 Hindu girls are forcibly converted every month. Pakistan has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), of which Article 16 confirms the right of every woman to enter into marriage ‘only with their free and full consent’. Pakistan has ratified the Child Rights Convention, of which Article 14 (1) states that state parties need to respect the right of children to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
As argued by Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, the state has responsibility to provide protection against individuals or organisations that try to convert people by resorting to means of coercion or by directly exploiting situations of particular vulnerability. ‘They also have a responsibility to ensure that forced conversions do not occur in the context of marriage or marriage negotiations.’
However, as this report shows, Pakistan is failing to fulfil their obligations under these international treaties to protect the rights of vulnerable minorities from forced conversions and forced marriages.
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Content Courtesy – CIFORB, The University of Birmingham 2018