INTERNATIONAL DESK: Every year, thousands of young girls in Pakistan, as young as 13 and especially from minority communities, fall victim to the greed of landlords, criminals and zealots. Their numbers have risen sharply with political collapse, economic downslides and disastrous floods in Pakistan, Canada-based non-profit think tank the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) reported.
According to the IFFRAS report, Pakistan’s media, civil society and political leaders have been silent about the issue. Religious leaders and generals have never paid any attention to the same. Only, occasionally, international organisations express their distress at the plight of Pakistan’s young girls.
Top human rights experts affiliated with the UN Human Rights Council earlier in January, pointed out that an increasing number of teenagers are being “kidnapped from their families, trafficked … far from their homes (and) made to marry men sometimes twice their age”.
The human rights report, hardly reported in Pakistani media, referred to threats of violence against the family of girls. “Abductors force their victims to sign documents which falsely attest to their being of legal age for marriage as well as marrying and converting of free will. These documents are cited by the police as evidence that no crime has occurred,” IFFRAS reported.
According to IFFRAS, the most distressing aspect of this human rights crime is the rampant manner in which young girls have been raped, forced into marriage and converted to Islam by a cabal of religious and moneyed people, helped in large measure by the state agencies like the police and judiciary, and uncared by the leaders.
Most of the time, these girls remain unknown and their cries remain unheard beyond the walls of their homes.
A recent report said that a total of 100 cases of forced faith conversion, forced and child marriage and abduction of girls and women belonging to the Christian community have been reported in Pakistan between January 2019 and October 2022.
According to the report titled “Conversion without Consent”, the 100 cases took place over a span of more than three years, of which 27 were recorded in 2019, 12 in 2020, 42 in 2021 and 19 till October 2022.
According to the report, sixty-one per cent of the girls were targeted before reaching 16 years of age, while 18 per cent became victims between the ages of 16 and 18 and 14 per cent became victims when they were above 18 years old of age. The ages of seven victims are not known. (ANI)