Global News - Redeem the Oppressed

Legislation Of Bill Prohibiting Forced Conversions In Pakistan Faces Undue Delay

In the face of ravaging incidents of forced conversions of minorities’ girls, which have increased sharply in Punjab and Sindh, the undue delay in the legislation prohibiting the menace in the country wreaks havoc to the non-Muslim Pakistanis. This bill was turned down, last year, by the Parliamentary Committee on Forced Conversions in Pakistan and recommended minute reviewing. The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-faith harmony termed the bill as “non-Islamic.”

Meanwhile, there has been a sharp rise in the incidents involving Christian and Hindu girls abducted and found later as married to Muslim men claiming that they have converted to Islam. Pakistan’s provinces Punjab and Sindh are heavily struck by ravaging wave of forced conversions. Most of the incidents being reported are from Sindh and Punjab. Females hailing from the Christian and Hindu community remain the prime target. In majority of the cases, the victims come from destitute families, so they are rendered hopeless.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Forced Conversions, Senator Liaqat Khan Tarakai had directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony to review the bill minutely. After the review, it will then be placed before the Committee for re-examination before further progress.

However, many months have passed and there are no signs of furtherance in this matter. In the absence of proper legislation, the perpetrators are getting away with committing severe human rights violations. It’s estimated that around 1,000 girls from minorities’ forcibly converted to Islam every year in Pakistan. The victims are between the ages of 12-25, so after being abducted they are forced to convert and married to their abductors.

While in almost all of the cases, police are reluctant to take action against the perpetrators maintaining that the girl has willfully converted to Islam and married a Muslim man. These girls are forced to give their consent statements, so no further action is taken for their recovery. In the face of this “human-rights catastrophe,” immediate legislation and action should be taken by the government to stop this prevalent menace in the country.

By Farrukh Saif

Farrukh Saif is a Pakistani human rights activist based in Germany. He founded his own organization, the Farrukh Saif Foundation (FSF), in 2009 with the goal of supporting marginalized and oppressed minorities in Pakistan who are affected by religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, forced conversions, abductions, rape, and bonded slavery. The main focus of the FSF is on the liberation of bonded laborers, particularly those working in brick kilns in rural areas of Pakistan. In 2018, the FSF merged with the US-based Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved. Throughout his career, Farrukh has been a leading voice for the rights of minorities in Pakistan and has gained international attention for his campaigns against the misuse of blasphemy laws and the belief that asylum is not a crime. In 2014, he played a key role in the release of hundreds of asylum seekers from Thai jails and has worked with his legal team to save numerous victims of strict blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Farrukh has also been invited by the Hungarian government to discuss his work and the issues he addresses. In addition to his work with the FSF, Farrukh has also been involved in various other humanitarian efforts, including providing health care services to internally displaced persons in Khayber Pakhtoon Khawa in 2009 and assisting flood victims in Sindh and Punjab in 2010. He has worked to aid victimized minorities in Pakistan and has a strong track record of successfully advocating for their rights. Farrukh joined forces with Keith Davies in 2018 to co-found the Emergency Committee to Save The Persecuted and Enslaved, and since 2009, they have collectively successfully rescued more than 36000 individuals from slavery and persecution.