I first came across this disturbing article, “Sindh’s Stolen Brides” several months ago but forgot to post it.
I read it again today…with a mixture of dismay, anger and helplessness…
Is anyone listening to the plight of these poor families? Where are our BJP friends? Why dont they raise this in Parliament? and Vishwa Hindu Parishad? Surely this is a serious matter? or do Hindus in Pakistan matter less than Hindus in India? How about Arundhati Roy? better still Amnesty International? Anyone?
The article , written by Mariana Baabar delves into how Hindus in Sindh, especially girls, are forced into Islam. Some excerpts :
- Hindus constitute about 2.5 per cent, or 26 lakh, of Pakistan’s population.
- Though sprinkled all over Pakistan, 95 per cent of Hindus are in Sindh.
- Only Tharparkar district in Sindh has Hindus in majority: 51 per cent.
“…I’m travelling in interior Sindh to verify specifically the reported widespread menace of abduction of Hindu girls, their forcible conversion to Islam and betrothal to Muslim men. My first port of call is the district court of Mirpur Khas. I promptly mingle among the crowd waiting for the court’s decision on a kidnap-and-conversion case. Different voices narrate contradictory stories. I am befuddled for the moment.…
A 13-year-old choosing to convert and marry? A 13-year-old testifying in the court, without her family by her side?…
Standing next to me is Kanjee Rano Bheel. He works for an NGO in the education sector; volunteers for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) as well. “In just two hours Mashu was converted and married,” Kanjee says incredulously.
Disappointment and helpless rage fleet across his face. “In Darul Aman the girls are kept away from parents and pressured into issuing statements favourable to the abductors. They tame stubborn girls through death threats.”
…In Mirpur Khas, truth resembles the mirage of the surrounding Thar desert, teasing and tormenting me as I drive from Karachi into interior Sindh…Wherever I go, and whoever I meet, in disconsolate voices the Hindus talk about “missing girls”; their stories resemble Mashu’s – the theme of abduction, conversion, often followed by marriage, is common to most narrations. The girls then appear in courts to issue statements declaring their conversion was voluntary. All links to the natal family and the community are severed; they are lost to the family forever.
On January 4, 2005, Marvi, 18, and Hemi, 16, were kidnapped from Kunri village in Umerkot district; three months later, on March 3, 14-year-old Raji was abducted from Aslam Town Jhuddo, Mirpur Khas. The script in their cases was similar to Mashu’s.
…Rehman told Outlook that the HRCP (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan) has, between Jan 2000 to Dec 2005, documented 50 cases involving conversion of Hindu girls to Islam. Its investigations too endorse what I had found in interior Sindh. In many cases where it was claimed the girls had eloped with their Muslim partners, the HRCP found that most were, in fact, abducted, forcibly married to Muslim men or sold to them.
…Nuzzhat Shirin, who works for the Lahore-based ngp Aurat Foundation, understands why the girls don’t reveal their plight at the time they are presented in court. “When a Hindu is forced to become Muslim, such a ruckus is made that if the young kidnapped girl appears in court, the fanatics yell, scream, throw rose petals in the air and follow the youth into the building so that she’s intimidated and can’t speak,” Shirin explains. Social stigma arising from the loss of virginity, and the consequent difficulty of finding a groom, prompt these women to accept their misfortune and hope for the best. …
Human rights activists are perturbed by the erosion of minority rights, particularly the alarming frequency with which cases of forcible conversion of Hindu girls are surfacing. Ansar Buney, chairman of the Ansar Buney Welfare Trust, is dismayed: “It’s heart-rending to see forced conversion of Hindus to Islam, since the Pakistan that Jinnah had envisioned granted absolute religious freedom to the minorities.” He then asks, “Have you ever heard of an Indian Muslim girl being forced to embrace Hinduism?”
Human rights activist Hina Jillani says Hindus and Christians in Pakistan are looked down upon. “That is why they have to take up inferior jobs; their chances of rising in any field is low,” she told Outlook.”
I would encourage everyone to read the article in full. The story needs to be retold and disseminated widely….this would be just a small step in trying to help these poor girls…and if anyone has any ideas of what else we can do, please email me at jai.dharmaATgmail.com
Image courtesy: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?229886