International Day of the Girl Child: Bishops of Pakistan call for an end to forced marriages and conversions

Yesterday, Monday October 11, on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Pakistan launched an appeal to end the phenomenon of forced marriages, kidnappings and the conversion of young girls. 

In 2011, United Nations General Assembly declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl, to "recognize the rights of girls and the particular obstacles they face around the world."

THEAgenzia Fides reports that on this day, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), an organ of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, calls on the authorities to take legal measures to end forced marriages which particularly target young girls from religious minorities.

The bishops' plea recalls that more than 1 young Hindu and Christian girls are each year victims of “kidnappings and forced conversions through forced marriages”. He also mentioned the reluctance of the government to adopt a law to stem this phenomenon.

An anti-conversion bill to combat this growing problem is in the works. However, it was rejected at the end of September by the Pakistani Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony which claimed that the "proposed law in its current form clashes with Islamic Sharia law". On September 27, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan was also opposed to this legislation which according to him would contain provisions "in direct conflict with the teachings of Islam".

In their appeal, Bishop Samson Shukardin, President of the Commission, Reverend Father Emmanuel Yousaf who is National Director, and Naeem Yousaf Gill, Executive Director, encourage the federal government to adopt "a logical and legal position consistent with its obligations. international laws and constitutional provisions for the protection of minority rights ”.

They deplore that "the girls victims of this violence are confronted with the trauma of the separation from their parents and undergo physical, mental and emotional violence" and add that the crime of forced conversion "involves multiple violations of human rights, such as freedom of religion and basic human rights ”.

Among the young girls victims of this phenomenon, discover on the InfoChrétienne site the story of Shashman 14-year-old kidnapped and forcibly married off who was handed over to her attacker by a Pakistani court. Or that of Nayab gill, 13-year-old Pakistani Christian who was also abducted and forcibly married.

Camille Westphal Perrier

Image Credit: AM Syed / Shutterstock.com

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