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Friday May 24, 2024

Most forced conversions in Sindh go unreported: study

KarachiDespite laws against forced marriages following abductions, cries against the crime – mainly affecting the Hindu community - continue to increase in Sindh since the past decade.Abductions of Hindu women and girls’ were usually not registered by police officials under the kidnapping and abduction laws whereas an absence of a

By Shahid Husain
May 20, 2015
Karachi
Despite laws against forced marriages following abductions, cries against the crime – mainly affecting the Hindu community - continue to increase in Sindh since the past decade.
Abductions of Hindu women and girls’ were usually not registered by police officials under the kidnapping and abduction laws whereas an absence of a legal framework guaranteeing the Hindu community protection against forced conversions added to the woes of those filing the cases.
In order to assess the severity of the situation Sindh Rural Partners Organization (SRPO), a local NGO conducted a study in 12 union councils of district Mirpurkhas where 72 cases pertaining to the issue were identified.
According to the study there was no proper mechanism to address the issue as victims and their family members had no access to government departments providing legal support.
It was interesting to note that the cases were neither registered with the police nor the media which indicated towards the worsening level of vulnerability of the Hindus residing in Mirpurkhas.
According to 2,400 structured interviews conducted with individuals most of them were worried about the attitude of their landlords as well as other religious groups in the areas. In a bid to assess the overall situation of the community with respect to provision of civic amenities such as healthcare services, education, water and sanitation revealed that most members of the community were being exploited since several years.
To promote a supporting environment for the vulnerable community, the SRPO in collaboration with the Norwegian Human Rights Fund (NHRF) initiated activities to create awareness among the community members with respect to their basic rights, guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan.
Youth groups as well as those consisting of elder members of the community were formed in 4 union councils of the district.
In order for them to register their complaints Complaint Response Units were established at their offices. The complaints would be referred to a Complaint Resolving Committee of which those pertaining to a sensitive nature would be sent to the District Human Rights Cell; a legal advisor providing free services to the victims of the targeted areas would be arranged for.
The SRPO also focused on getting members of national as well as provincial assemblies, elected from the area, on board in order for proper legislation to be done regarding matters pertaining to the protection of the Hindu community.