Forced marriages and forced conversions in Pakistan

The NGO Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP) has called for action having published a report finding that between 100 and 700 Christian women ‘are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party’ every year in Pakistan. The investigative report, entitled ‘Forced Marriages & Forced Conversions in the Christian Community of Pakistan’ was first published in April.

The report focuses on the experiences of the Christian community of Punjab, arguing that “forced marriages by themselves constitute an abuse of women’s rights: they are performed “under duress without the full and informed consent of both parties.” Forced conversions are violations of the fundamental rights enumerated in the Constitution of Pakistan, and in this case — since victims are converted from Christianity or Hinduism to Islam — target designated religious minorities. Victimized minority women therefore, are placed in “double jeopardy” since they face discrimination, marginalization, and exploitation on the grounds of (a) being members of religious minorities and (b) women.”

The report categorizes the concurrent incidence of forced conversions and forced marriages as a distinct crime specific to minority Christian women in Punjab.

The report concludes with detailed recommendations at various levels— national, provincial, and local — for key stakeholders.

MSP is mobilizing an inclusive coalition to raise awareness on this issue. MSP will host outreach events in the coming weeks in Pakistan (in collaboration with the National Commission of Justice and Peace in Pakistan) and around the world.