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Several Christian families at Saeedabad in Karachi have fled their homes while many others have sent their women to safer grounds, following threats issued by the activists of a political party after a Muslim girl married with a Christian boy last week.
The couple fled to Faisalabad, where the 20-year-old Christian boy converted to Islam and married the 18-year-old Muslim girl, The News reported.
Following the incident, the girl’s family, who hails from Hazara, and activists of a political party have threatened the Christian community of dire consequences if the girl does not return home.
They also stoned the locality’s church, forced a local school to shut down, and also forced the people to migrate from the area.
Requesting anonymity, a Christian resident told the media that although a week had passed since the incident took place, a tense atmosphere still prevails in the area.
“I have sent my three children to my relatives’ place since the activists threatened us that they would start kidnapping our girls. Becoming terrified, many people locked their homes and ran away, while others have caged themselves up in their houses. Also, the boy’s family has also fled and the situation has aggrieved. Now, the Christian community is paying the price for the boy’s crime,” the resident said.
William Sattar, a social activist working in the area, revealed that police, along with the girl’s family, were picking up boys from the area and beating them up.
“We are very worried as armed men are roaming in the area. They have already attacked our church and we are scared that they might start attacking our houses,” he added.
He requested the higher-ups to provide them security and ensure that no untoward incident takes place.
Meanwhile, SHO Saeedabad Police Station Nasir Sami said that the police were doing all they could to control the law and order situation in the area.
“The boy has sent his free-will conversion and marriage certificate to police officials and calm and peace is returning to the area. The school was threatened to close down but it will resume its activities as police has been deployed in the area,” the official added. (ANI)
The media reported that activists of a political party were backing the girl”s family and some of them had also thrown stones at the only church in the locality.
Another resident said that he had sent his three children to a relatives” place since the activists threatened the Christian families to return the girl or they would start kidnapping the Christian girls.
Also, the boy”s family has also fled and the situation has aggrieved.
Now, the Christian community is paying the price for the boy”s crime,” the resident said.
The government is already facing protest rallies and threats of countrywide agitation over the case involving a Christian woman, Asia Bibi who has been sentenced to death under the controversial blasphemy law.
The Sunni Ittehad Tehreek, a merger of like minded religious parties and a splinter wing of the banned Jamaat-ud- Dawa held protest rallies in Lahore and other parts of the country yesterday with hundreds of activists warning the government not to grant clemency to the Christian woman a mother of three who has filed an appeal against her death sentence in the high court.
The Pakistani state does not recognize either civil or common law marriage:
The Pakistani state does not recognize either civil or common law marriage. Marriages were performed and registered according to one’s religious group. The marriages of non-Muslim men remained legal upon conversion to Islam. If a non-Muslim female converted to Islam, and her marriage was performed according to her previous religious beliefs, the marriage was considered dissolved. Children born to Hindu or Christian women who converted to Islam after marriage were considered illegitimate unless their husbands also converted. The only way the marriage can be legitimated and the children made eligible for inheritance was for the husband to convert to Islam. The children of a Muslim man and a Muslim woman who both converted to another religious group were considered illegitimate, and the government can take custody of the children. The registration of Hindu and Sikh marriages has been a long-standing demand of these communities. In May 2009 the Scheduled Caste Rights Movement (SCRM) demanded legislation for Hindu marriage registration during a seminar in Islamabad. The minorities’ representatives were of the view that in the absence of Hindu and Sikh marriage registration, women faced difficulties in getting a share of their parents’ and husbands’ property, accessing health services, voting, obtaining a passport, and buying or selling property.
Forced Religious Conversion
Women who are affiliates of religious minorities are most susceptible and unprotected to both discrimination and violence. These groups lack fundamental rights and the prerogative to exercise those conventional rights that have been granted by the state. Religion percolates and officiates as both a primary motivation for crimes and as an antecedent and motivation of criminal complaint aftereffects. Women and religious minorities face complex, omnipresent and ubiquitous forms of discrimination, from societal to judicial. Forced and coerced conversions of religious minorities to Islam occurred at the hands of societal actors. Religious minorities claimed Authorities actions to stem and restrain the problem were inconsiderable & faulty. The NCJP noted abductions and forced conversions of Christians and Hindus were on the rise. It reported that in December 2009, 20 Christians and 21 Hindus were forced to convert to Islam during the year, of whom 15 were men, 13 women, and four children. In March 2010 the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that as many as 20 to 25 girls from the Hindu community were abducted every month and forcibly converted to Islam.
And Pakistani authorities & Police turn blind eye to rampant kidnapping and rape of Hindu girls in Sindh province.
On May 19, 2010, a Christian girl who was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam was reunited with her family after three years separation. Tina Barkat, now 28, was kidnapped by the family of a friend, who, together with her uncle, forced her to convert to Islam and marry one of their relatives.
On December 21, 2009, a 15-year-old Hindu girl was abducted by a Muslim neighbor from her home in Katchi Mandi, Liaquatpur. Her parents later learned that she was being held captive in a madrassah, and she had been forced to convert to Islam and marry.