13-Year-Old’s Abduction Latest in String of Attacks on Hindu Women in Pakistan

A 13-year-old girl belonging to the Hindu community in Pakistan’s Sindh province was reportedly abducted last week while returning from the market, with the victim’s family alleging that the police initially refused to file an FIR in the case.

The case has once again highlighted the plight of minorities in Pakistan, coming close on the heels of the gang-rape of a 13-year-old Sikh boy in Jacobabad. According to reports, more than 10 Hindu girls have been abducted and raped in Pakistan this year.

Campaigners say forced conversion and marriage of girls and women from minority religions, including Hindus and Christians, is a growing problem in Pakistan, with those from poor families and low castes largely targeted.

Human rights activists say the practice accelerated during Covid-19 lockdowns, when girls were out of school and more visible, bride traffickers were more active on the Internet and families were more in debt.

In September, a married Hindu woman and two teenage girls were allegedly abducted, forcibly converted and married to Muslims in Sindh province. The situation worsened for the minority community during recent flood.

A Hindu girl was allegedly gang-raped by two locals on the pretext of providing food amid the devastating floods in Sindh. In June, a teenage Hindu girl told a court in Karachi that she was forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man.

Earlier, in March, three Hindu girls were abducted, converted to Islam and married to Muslim men within eight days. In another case on March 21, a Hindu girl was shot dead outside her home in Rohri, Sukkur by the man whose offer of marriage she spurned.

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In 2021, the United States placed Pakistan on a list of “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations. Human rights organizations and US media reports estimate that every year nearly 1,000 minority girls are being kidnapped or forcibly converted to Islam.

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