10/03/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Members of the Parliamentary Committee to Protect Religious Minorities from Forced Conversions are set to travel to Sindh to visit areas where an increase in forced conversion cases have been reported. Members of Pakistan’s civil society have called for the involvement victims and human rights groups to provide concrete evidence to the committee.
The committee will visit Umerkot, Ghotki, and Tharparkar districts between October 6 and 9. It is hoped the committee will be able to gather concrete evidence regarding the issue of increasing abductions, forced marriages, and forced conversions.
According to a study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam every year. Sexual assaults and fraudulent marriages are used by perpetrators to entrap victims and authorities are often complicit.
The issue of religion is also often injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.
Peter Jacob, Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice (CSJ), urged the committee to involve individual victims and their families as well as human rights organizations to present evidence on forced conversions. Jacob also went on to encourage the committee to visit Punjab where CSJ has documented some 74 cases of forced conversions.