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Pakistan: At least 1000 Christian girls each year are “kidnapped, raped, and forced to convert to Islam, even forced to marry their tormentors”

The kidnapping and forced conversion of girls from Christian and other religious minority communities in Pakistan is a sadly recurring phenomenon. Most of the victims and their families charge that Pakistani police force frequently refuse to help the victims, and even side with the kidnappers.

Pakistan’s small and courageous Orthodox Christian community is as vulnerable to this persecution as are the rest of Pakistan’s Christians. The ongoing mistreatment of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan is an issue of immense importance that nevertheless receives scant attention from the UN or international human rights organizations. Please pray that the Christian community in Pakistan will be able to endure this martyrdom and experience a resurrection, and that relief will come to this courageous and long-suffering Christian community.

“Christian women forced to convert to Islam in Pakistan,” by Mario Schiavone, Newsbook, August 12, 2019:

The Pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need, is sounding the alarm on the plight of young Christian women, and even teenagers, in Pakistan who are forced to convert to Islam.

“Every year at least a thousand girls are kidnapped, raped, and forced to convert to Islam, even forced to marry their tormentors,” according to Tabassum Yousaf, a Catholic lawyer linked to the St. Egidio Community.

To draw attention to the issue, the papal foundation ACN is hosting a press conference in Karachi next Thursday, which will see the attendance of Cardinal Joseph Coutts and several Muslim leaders.

The phenomenon of forced conversions hits Pakistan’s religious minorities, especially Christians and Hindus.

Better legal protection

In just one case, last month, a 14-year-old Christian girl was abducted in Lahore and forced to marry her kidnapper. Police later informed her parents that a conversion certificate had been registered for her.

Though current Pakistani law sets the legal marriage age at 16 for girls, ACN is pushing for it to be changed to 18.

The Catholic charity is also advocating for better legal protections against kidnappings and forced conversions for religious minorities. Families of victims often face an uphill battle in court when taking on perpetrators of forced conversions.

Media attention

The press conference on Thursday falls close to the national Minorities Day, which was held on August 11.

Ms. Yousaf, the Catholic lawyer, says the West and the international media “can do much to safeguard religious minorities in Pakistan.”…..

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