A young Hindu bride from Pakistan’s Sindh province was kidnapped from the wedding, converted to Islam and later married off to a Muslim man reports the Times of India.
Ravi Dawani, general secretary of the All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat, told TOI on Monday that it was the third instance in less than two weeks of Hindu girls being targeted, including a 15-year-old from Sindh who was kidnapped on January 15 and converted to Islam. “The bride from Hala in Matiari district of Sindh was converted to Islam at Banoria in Karachi and married off to one Shahrukh Memon,” Dawani said.
Dawani said a 25-year-old woman from Kot Gulam Mohammad town of Mirpur Khas district had also been taken away away from her home four days ago and converted to Islam. She is now married to a Muslim man identified as Ghulam Mustafa. “We are still to verify whether the woman got married to Mustafa against her wishes,” Dawani said.
Pakistan has witnessed an infinite number of horrific cases of abductions and forced conversions of non-Muslim girls recently. A Hindu girl was abducted, forcefully convert to Islam and married off to a Muslim man in October. A young girl Chandri Kolhi from Noukot, Mirpurkhas, was reportedly kidnapped, converted and married to Allah Dino in October.
Earlier, a group of Muslim men kidnapped a young girl in Sindh and her family claimed she was forcibly converted to Islam. A Hindu girl Namrita Chandani, a first-year medical student from Sindh’s Ghotki was found dead on a cot with a piece of cloth tied around her neck while her room was locked from inside.
The police declared that the girl committed suicide but her family members maintained that she was murdered. The victim’s brother, a medical consultant insisted that preliminary medical checkup confirmed that she was murdered.
According to a US-based Sindhi Foundation, over 1000 young Sindhi Hindu girls between the age of 12 and 28 are abducted, forcibly married and converted to Islam.
A 2015 report by the South Asia Partnership-Pakistan in collaboration with Aurat Foundation found that that at least 1,000 girls are violently converted to Islam in Pakistan every year. The report stated that the conversions take place in the Thar region, particularly in the districts of Umerkot, Tharparkar, Mirpur Khas, Sanghar, Ghotki and Jacobabad.
The report clearly blames wealthy landlords, extremist religious organisations, weak local courts and an indifferent administration as working together in this wicked scheme.
While in south Sindh the Hindu community members are mostly poor, in the north they are better off. Largely, it is girls from low-caste, poor Hindu families who are forcibly abducted and converted to Islam.
Harris Khalique, writer and Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, says madrassas provide an “institutional backing and that cannot happen if the state does not allow that. I rest the blame of such events fairly on the state, which fails its citizens.” These conversions reflect a potent mix of patriarchy, economic deprivation, and religious hierarchy, he says. “Most of these girls come from Scheduled Castes. The men they marry are mostly financially better off. Even if they are just marginally better off, they belong to a more privileged segment of society. It becomes a power dynamic.”
Under-age girls are especially exposed to conversions, says senior journalist Shahzeb Jillani. “Affluent Muslim farmers see them as an ideal choice for abductions, rape, and sexual exploitation in captivity. Some notorious religious institutions even not only endorse but also flaunt of these brutalities.
Jillani points out that Mirpur Khas, Tharparkar and Umerkot see the highest number of conversions. “The Pakistani army has traditionally viewed this population with suspicion,” he says.
The Pakistan army has expanded its direct and indirect presence in the region by supporting more madrassas and Islamic organizations. Therefore, the conversion of Hindu girls, especially in border areas, has direct connection with Pakistan’s national security, he adds.