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Issue of forceful conversion in Pakistan

By: Asifa Abdul Rasool Khowaja
Forceful conversion is defined as the use of unfair mean to force anyone to go away from his/her religion and adopt other religion through pressure, threat and force.
Although shariah prohibits forced conversion, following the Quranic principle “no compulsion in religion” (2:256).
Rate of force full conversion in Pakistan for the sake of marriage is increasing day by day. The Human Rights Council of Pakistan has reported that rate of cases of forced conversion are increasing. It affects most religious minority groups in Pakistan but Hindu teenage girls within the Sindh province are the most victims. A 2014 report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP) says about 1,000 women in Pakistan are forcibly converted to Islam per annum (700 Christian and 300 Hindu). Pakistan did not protect non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan as per international obligations to guard minorities especially girls from exploitation of powerful groups and force full and illegal conversion. These acts impact psychologically on the families of victim when their daughters vender out and any fuderal lord celebrate his conversion as victory and marriage as reward of victory.
Consistent with Amarnath Motumal, the vice-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, monthly, an estimated 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted and converted. In 2014 alone, 265 legal cases of forced conversion were reported mostly involving Hindu girls. consistent with the National Commission of Justice and Peace and therefore the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), around 1000 Christian and Hindu minority women are converted to Islam then forcibly married off to their abductors or rapists. This practice is being reported increasingly within the districts of Tharparkar, Umerkot, and Mirpur Khas in Sindh. The raising cases of forced marriages are increasing fears for minorities in Islamic republic of Pakistan. The country which was separated for the aim of protection of rights of minorities is now facing issues in providing rights and protection to minorities who left their houses within the war of independence and settled in Pakistan as Quaid-e-azam mentioned that each individual will get equal rights regardless of its religion. Consistent with constitution of Pakistan, (fundamental rights): “All citizens have right to preserve their particular language, script and culture and religion.” Another article supports rights for minorities is “All citizens are equal and there shall be no discrimination on bases of sex, language, culture, religion, etc.”
Force full conversion increase cases of martial rape and rate of domestic violence is proportional to the rate of force full conversion and force full marriage. It influence not only a minor physically but emotionally and mentally, this phase of mental and emotional illness will highly effect the life of minor in long run. Once the ladies convert, there’s no going back, as apostasy would mean a punishment of death sentence. In many cases, women are told that their families are ‘kafirs’’ and that they cannot meet them as Islam don’t allow to meet kafirs’. This impedes their access to justice as they continue to be within the clutches of powerful men. Nobody hears from these women directly after they ‘elope’.

CASES ASSOCIATED WITH FORCE FULL CONVERSION:
1. The alleged abduction of two young Hindu sisters, it had been a case of underage marriage of two teenage sisters Reena (15) and Raveena (13) in Sindh’s Ghotki district. However, the prime minister instructed the chief ministers of Sindh and Punjab to right away arrest the culprits involved within the incident and recover the women. Islamabad Supreme Court on Monday seeking protection because the police arrested 14 suspects alongside a Nikkah Khwan (an official registering the wedding contract).
2. Saima Iqbal case, a Pakistani Christian mother of three was abducted, tortured and made to convert to Islam by a Muslim man who then forced her to marry him. During a Facebook video she tearfully described how she was snatched from her home. Mr. Iqbal, the husband of saima said that, “I have challenged the forced conversion and therefore the forced marriage of my wife during a magistrate’s court,” however, they’re still awaiting the court’s judgment.
3. Payal Kumari, a teenage Hindu girl who was abducted by her teacher from district Thatta. Police looked the opposite way as Payal went missing for several days before appearing to record her statement at a madrassa.
CONCLUSION:
A bill against forced conversions has been undetermined in the federal parliament. In 2016, the Sindh provincial assembly proceed a law anti forced conversions, but had to back down after religious parties march against laws of force full conversion. In 2019, a Holy Scripture was introduced, but religious parties protested yet again. A sit-in was organized by Pir Mian Abdul Khaliq (Mian Mithu), a political and spiritual leader and a central character in many cases of forced conversions of underage Hindu girls in Sindh. He and his group claim the ladies don’t seem to be forced, but fall taken with Muslim men and convert willingly. In March 2019, nearly 2,000 Hindus staged a sit-in to demand justice for 2 sisters, Reena and Raveena, who they claimed were forcibly converted and married. The Islamabad judicature ruled the women had willingly converted and married the lads. Herein lies the contention. While there are an outsized number of cases of forced conversions and marriages, there also are cases where vulnerable young women are preyed upon by influential men who entice them to convert and marry.
Sexual intercourse with a woman below the age of 16 is carnal abuse and carries a death sentence, or a minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. There’s no defence. Yet in some cases, the assembly of a conversion certificate and a nikahnama influences enforcement to pardon the abductors.

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