Another two minor Hindu girls abducted, ‘forcefully converted’ in Sindh

    As the series of abductions, forced religious conversions and underage marriages of minority girls in Pakistan continues, another two Hindu teenagers have allegedly been abducted and coerced into marrying their Muslim abductors in Sindh.

    As per the details, 14-year-old Jasmi Meghwar of Islamkot in Tharparkar and 15-year-old Chanda Maharaj of Hyderabad were allegedly abducted by Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam.

    READ MORE: Toothless legislation aiding child marriages in Pakistan

    According to rights activist Narain Das Bheel, one of the minor girls, Jasmi, was converted by a local cleric and married to her abductor, namely Shaukat Murad Hanhrjo.

    The minor girl was declared a 19-year-old by her abductors, a copy of the conversion certificate showed.

    Chanda, on the other hand, was abducted by one Shaman Magsi while on her way back home from school.

    She remained missing despite her mother’s pleas amid the police’s failure to recover the minor girl who was reportedly shifted to Balochistan two months ago.

    With reports of Chanda’s abduction making it to social media earlier this week, she was presented before a magistrate to record her statement in light of her abduction, subsequent conversion to Islam and marriage to a Muslim man.

    The incidents come as the targeting of religious minorities, especially young Hindu and Christian girls, continues to pick up pace in Pakistan.

    Such cases are mostly reported in Punjab and Sindh which house a large number of Christians and Hindus, respectively. Human rights bodies have often called on minority councilors to intervene in cases of forced conversions, especially the ones involving minor girls.

    READ MORE: Doubly disadvantaged: The plight of non-Muslim women in Pakistan

    Leaders of minority communities are also particularly concerned by the judiciary’s handling of cases of underage marriages involving minority girls.

    In a recent letter to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Hindu rights activist Mahesh Vasu highlighted that an average of three minor Hindu girls are abducted on a daily basis, gang-raped, filmed naked, tortured, forcibly converted to Islam and married to their abductor in the country.

    READ MORE: Interfaith marriages, religious conversions and everything in between

    As per the data of the 2017 national census, the total population of religious minorities in Pakistan in 2017 was 3.54%, however in 1998, it was 3.72%, showing a 0.18% decrease with 0.5% decrease in the Christian population. Christians in Pakistan were 1.55% in 1981, increased to 1.58% in 1998, and drastically fell to 1.27% in 2017 with no concrete reason given.

    In 2020, 15 cases of forced conversion were highlighted in the media but in 2021 some 60 cases were reported of which around 70 percent of girls who were converted forcibly were under 18 years of age.

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