VHPA condemns forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan

published on March 19, 2012

The World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), condemns the total violation of basic human rights of the Hindu community in Pakistan, and requests urgent global attention to the continued discrimination and systematically enforced destitution of the Hindus in Pakistan.
Rinkel Kumari, a 17 year old Hindu girl, was abducted from her home in Mirpur Mathelo, a small town in Sindh, Pakistan; sometime during the second week of February. She was held by Mian Mohammad Aslam, the son of Pakistan People’s Party Member of National Assembly Mian Mitho, in Bharchundi Shareef, a prominent Sufi-Islamic center, where she was forced to marry a Muslim man and convert to Islam.

On February 25, Rinkel was brought before a civil judge, who ruled in favour of Naveed Shah, her Muslim “husband”. She was taken into custody for two days at Sukkur police station, where Rinkel was allegedly threatened with violence, while in police custody,  to coerse her into changing her previous statement, in which she had complained that she had been kidnapped.  On February 27, Rinkel appeared in court again and this time her relatives were not allowed inside the court.  After the second hearing, Rinkel was again returned to the custody of Naveed Shah.

In a letter written to President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month; Congressman Brad Sherman (27th district, California) stated, “Rinkel’s case is just one amongst many cases of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan”.

Acknowledging that Hindus face a lot of challenges, on February 14, 2012, sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, Azra Fazal Pechuho said, “Hindu girls were being forcibly kept in madrassas in the province (Sindh), and are forced to marry Muslims”. This admission by Azra Fazal, who is also a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, came against the backdrop of Pakistan Supreme Court’s recent directive to authorities to produce three Hindu women who were allegedly kidnapped in Sindh.

Almost three-quarters of women from Pakistan’s Hindu community have faced sexual harassment, while nearly half, complained of religious discrimination at workplaces, educational institutions and neighborhoods. A report, prepared by the National Commission for Justice and Peace (Pakistan), states that about 74 percent of the Hindu women faced sexual harassment.

Pakistan was created as an Islamic nation in 1947, and religious minorities there, are treated as second class citizens under the country’s Islamic laws. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Hindus have been forcibly converted to Islam, and many more have been forced to flee the country. In 1971 alone, the Pakistani Army was blamed for the genocide of over one million of Hindus in erstwhile East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh).
World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), calls upon the global community as well as human rights groups, to expose this discrimination and victimization of Hindus, especially women, in Pakistan. We also hope that Islamic advocacy groups around the world, come out in open condemnation of these abuses

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