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Forced Conversions of Hindu Girls in Sindh Highlighted in Pakistani Senate Session

Danesh Kumar, a Senator in Pakistan's upper house has gained the attention of all during the ongoing Senate session for highlighting the forced abductions and conversions of Hindu girls in Pakistan's Sindh province.

"Daughters of Hindus are not a booty that someone should forcibly change their religion. Hindu girls are being forcibly converted to Islam in Sindh. It has been two years since innocent Pooja Kumari was abducted. The government does not take action against these influential people," Danesh said while addressing the Senate session.

He stated that the forced abduction and conversion of Hindu girls is being done by influential people and religious groups, who enjoy the support of the political powers that continue to target religious minorities, especially Hindu minority girls.

Abducted and forcibly converted to Islam, they are married off to Muslim men.

Danesh mentioned that all of this is being done under the pretext that teenage Hindu girls are converting as per their free will.

"For many influential religious groups, such conversions and marriages are celebrated considering it to be a devotion to Islam. However, the teaching of Islam preaches otherwise. The law/Constitution of Pakistan does not allow forced religious conversions and neither does the Holy Quran," he said.

Danesh has raised an issue that has been haunting Pakistan for years as many global bodies have raised serious reservations and concerns over Islamabad's inability to put an end to the ongoing suffering of religious minorities.

There have been innumerable cases of girls from the minority Hindu community being forcibly abducted, converted and married off to Muslim men, most of them twice their age or even more.

The United Nations (UN) recently slammed Pakistan over what it termed as an "alarming situation" at the continuing lack of protection of young women and girls belonging to minority communities in the country.

"Christian and Hindu girls continue to remain vulnerable to forced religious conversion, abduction, trafficking, child, early and forced marriage, domestic servitude and sexual violence," read a UN statement.

"The exposure of young women and girls belonging to religious minority communities to such heinous human rights violations and the impunity of such crimes can no longer be tolerated or justified," it added.

Highlighting the legislative and judicial failures to protect vulnerable underage girls, the UN experts have underlined that early and forced marriage cannot be justified on religious or cultural grounds, adding that consent is irrelevant when the victim is a child under the age of 18.

"The matter is not limited to only forced conversions and marriages of Hindu girls; it is being validated by the courts, who invoke religious laws and justifying keeping victims with their abductors rather than allowing them to return to their parents," said Hafeez Tunio, a local journalist from Sindh province.

"Perpetrators often escape accountability, with police dismissing crimes under the guise of love marriage," he added.

While the matter of forced conversions is pivotal and needs immediate and urgent attention of the government, experts say non-application of relevant provisions of Pakistan Penal Code, coupled with failure of the parliament of Pakistan to adopt further legislation to address the issue of forced conversions and marriages of minority women and girls, has further encouraged influential religious groups to continue with their vicious agenda, which they shelter under the facade of religious teachings and its spread.

*Except for the heading, this story has not been edited by The enewstime.in and has been published from IANS feed.

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