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Protest against abduction of Christian girls in Pakistan

Four teenagers from the minority community have been kidnapped so far this year
Protest against abduction of Christian girls in Pakistan

Members of human rights groups in Pakistan protest against the rising incidents of abduction of teenage Christian girls at Karachi Press Club on Jan. 17. (Photo supplied)

Published: January 19, 2022 06:27 AM GMT
Updated: January 19, 2022 07:17 AM GMT

Human rights groups in Pakistan have held a protest expressing serious concern over rising incidents of abductions of teenage girls across the country.

The Jan. 17 protest at Karachi Press Club was triggered by the reported abduction of four Christian teenage girls in different cities of Pakistan in the first two weeks of this year.

“There is gender-based violence and child abuse in the country. We see an increase in it as there is a lack of action on the part of government institutions,” said Ilyas Samuel, a spokesperson for Voice for Justice.

Mahnoor Ashraf, a 14-year-old Christian girl, was abducted by a 45-year-old neighbor in Lahore on Jan. 4. According to reports, she went missing shortly after she walked to a nearby shop with her eight-year-old nephew, who returned to alert the family. They were informed on Jan. 7 that Mahnoor had converted to Islam and married her abductor, Muhammad Ali Khan Ghauri.

Sixteen-year-old Kiran, another Christian girl from Okara in Punjab province, was abducted from her college on Jan. 7. The kidnapper, Muhammad Arif, allegedly raped her in his car before abandoning her in an unconscious state in front of her house.

Cousins Zarish, 17, and Angel, 15, were reported missing after they went shopping in Kot Radha Kishan, also in Punjab province, on Jan. 4.

Voice for Justice chairman Joseph Jannsen said the lack of convictions of kidnappers and rapists raises questions over the competence of law enforcement agencies 

Samuel appealed to the federal and provincial governments to make all possible efforts to ensure strict punishment for the kidnappers, who exploit and force the minor girls belonging to religious minorities to convert to Islam and marry against their wishes.

Voice for Justice chairman Joseph Jannsen said the lack of convictions of kidnappers and rapists raises questions over the competence of law enforcement agencies in Pakistan.

Carol Noreen, a Catholic women’s rights activist, emphasized the need for adequate medical and psycho-social support for the victims “to help them recover and lead a dignified life.”

She further called upon the governments in Pakistan to invest in efforts to stop sexual violence and address obscurantist societal attitudes towards women who are treated as if they are on trial.

Voice for Justice demanded that “courts decide rapidly on cases where minors are abducted and forcefully converted and ensure that girls are brought back into the custody of their parents.”

Annually at least some 1,000 women from Hindu and Christian communities are abducted and forcibly converted and married to Muslim abductors or rapists, published records show.

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