Two Hindu girls, sisters aged 13 and 15, were abducted on March 20 and later converted to Islam, in Dharki town of Sindh’s Ghotki district in Pakistan. As per reports, the girls were abducted while they were celebrating the festival of Holi. The minority Hindu community has taken to streets demanding action against the perpetrators.
Teenage Hindu sisters Raveena and Reena Menghwar abducted from Ghotki, Sindh. On Holi, Hindu community stages sit-in on national highway against the refusal of police to register a case. Another case of forced conversion and as always the family is helpless. pic.twitter.com/w17mRYjM3f
— Naila Inayat नायला इनायत (@nailainayat) March 21, 2019
According to the Times of India report, a First Information Report in the case was only lodged after a heavy protest by the minority community. Pakistan Hindu Sewa Welfare Trust’s Sanjesh Dhanja told TOI that girls were first abducted then converted to Islam after marriage. The families of the girls tell that people from the Kohbar and Malik tribes carried out the crime.
The Karachi Police, however, claim that girls embraced Islam without pressure, and had left home on their own will. Such incidents, reportedly, are becoming increasingly common in Pakistan where minor girls are abducted. The families struggle to get an FIR registered, but by the time an FIR is registered, the girls are usually converted and already married to Muslim men. The local cleric produces a conversion certificate and the family is left in a legal lurch.
Many rights activists and journalists have slammed the incident and criticised the blatant flouting of child marriage laws. The videos of the girls being married are doing rounds on social media. There are also videos of Muslim clerics declaring that the girls have accepted Islam. However, as both girls are minors, the inaction of the government to protect children from abduction, marriage and forced conversions is being called out.
In 2016, the Sindh Assembly had introduced the Forced Conversion Bill to protect the rights of minorities. It was passed jointly by members of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League. However, the bill could not see the light of day as the Governor was pressurised not to ratify the bill.