Briefing on Alleged Forced Conversions & Trafficking of Minority Women

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The People’s Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) in collaboration with the Centre for Social Justice held a media briefing in Islamabad on the recent spate in cases of Forced Conversions & marriages and trafficking of Minority Women.

Recent cases in Punjab and Sindh have re-triggered concerns within the civil society and religious minorities about the urgent need to undertake practical measures for the prevention & elimination of manipulated faith conversions involving different types of human rights violations and heinous crimes. Speaking on the occasion, Peter Jacob (Chairperson, PCMR) emphasized on understanding the circumstances of faith conversions in the country and how other factors such as Violence against Women & Girls (VAWG), social discrimination and poverty play into the particular disadvantage of minority women.

PCMR shared a updates of an on-going study ‘Silence of the Lamb’ provides data pertaining to 110 cases of conversions between 2013 and 2019. This set of data includes 16 girls & women had approached the courts because they faced odd circumstances after their so-called conversion and reported marriages.

The study reveals that the majority of the incidents occurred in Sindh and Punjab provinces. The data also shows that forced faith conversion is often accompanied by other criminal activity, including, kidnapping, abduction, forced marriage, underage marriage, rape, gang-rape and assault. In addition to providing a working definition of forced conversion, the study also includes specific recommendations for relevant government departments at the federal and provincial levels.

The PCMR also shared electronic and print reports of the proceedings of a People’s Inquiry organised by PCMR in Lahore earlier this month. Prominent legal experts, journalists and civil society representatives attended the Peoples’ Inquiry on these crimes against minority women. In the end, conclusions and recommendations were issued by a Jury composed of Hina Jinali, former judges of Balochistan High Court Kailashnath Kohli, Jamshed Rehmatullah, Khawar Mumtaz (Chairperson, NCSW) and M Parkash Mehtani called upon the government to constitute present a legislation to prevent forced conversions & related crimes. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Pakistan was urged to supervise the on-going investigation on the cases of human trafficking of the Christian girls to China. Reparation of the girls who were defrauded into a marriage and transported abroad was also one of the demands put forth by the Jury.

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