Forced Conversions of Christian Girls in Pakistan: A Continuing Crisis in 2024

Farrukh Saif

March 21, 2024

Forced conversion-In Pakistan

In 2024, the issue of forced conversions of Christian girls in Pakistan continues to be a grave concern, shedding light on the persistent challenges faced by Christians in the country. This practice, marked by abductions, forced marriages, and conversions without consent, has drawn international attention and calls for urgent action to protect the rights and freedoms of vulnerable girls. Often, it is observed that these girls, aged between 12 to 16 years, become easy targets of a male-dominated Muslim society.

Reasons for this Escalating Crisis:

Reports from various sources highlight the alarming frequency of these incidents, where young Christian girls are targeted, abducted, and coerced into converting to Islam through marriages that lack any form of consent. Approximately 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls are kidnapped annually in Pakistan for purposes of rape, forced conversion, and forced marriages by Muslim men. Over the last 20 years, this would amount to an estimated total of more than 20,000 Christian and Hindu girls abducted in Pakistan.

There are many cases that are never reported to the police or surfaced on social media because the victims’ families never bring these cases to the public to preserve their shame and respect for their families. The second most crucial point is that there are certain places where Christians and Hindus are living below the poverty line, for example, in rural areas of Sindh and Punjab, where Hindu and Christian families have been working as bonded laborers for generations. Most of these people work in the fields and brick kilns or serve as domestic workers in the homes of landlords and masters.

ECSPE is working for persecuted and marginalized communities in Pakistan. We have uncovered hundreds of cases involving the rape and forced conversion of Christian and Hindu girls in brick kilns and even among those working in the fields. After being rescued from bonded slavery, they often recount their harrowing experiences of rape and assault.

International Response:

International organizations like the United Nations have condemned these forced conversions and marriages, urging Pakistan to take decisive measures to halt this practice. The UN’s stance underscores the gravity of the situation and emphasizes the need for immediate intervention to safeguard the fundamental rights of all individuals, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Local Efforts Within Pakistan, civil society groups and advocates have been actively campaigning against forced conversions and striving to raise awareness about this issue. Their efforts aim to bring about legal reforms, enhance protection mechanisms for vulnerable communities, and promote religious tolerance and harmony within society.

Call for Action:

As we navigate through 2024, authorities in Pakistan must address this pressing human rights issue with urgency and sincerity. Concrete steps must be taken to prevent further instances of forced conversions, protect the rights of Christian girls, and uphold the principles of religious freedom and equality for all citizens.

The year 2024 stands as a critical juncture for Pakistan to confront the challenges posed by forced conversions of Christian girls and work towards fostering a more inclusive and tolerant society where every individual can practice their faith without fear or coercion.

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Farrukh Saif

Farrukh H. Saif, a courageous Christian human rights activist, established the Farrukh Saif Foundation in 2009 to confront religious discrimination, blasphemy laws, and bonded slavery in Pakistan. His dedication to liberating bonded laborers from brick kilns and advocating for blasphemy victims and asylum seekers has garnered international acclaim. Despite encountering threats and fatwas, his impactful work persists in supporting marginalized communities. In 2018, the foundation merged with The Emergency Committee to Save the Persecuted and Enslaved, enhancing its global outreach.

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