Father suspects forced conversion of teenage daughter -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Father suspects forced conversion of teenage daughter

Karachi: Similar to other cases of forced conversions, a 13-year-old Hindu girl has gone missing after being allegedly abducted and converted, The News has learnt.

The anguished father of the abducted girl, Poonam, suspects a newly-converted man and some influential locals of his neighborhood in Lyari into brainwashing the teenager to denounce her religion.

“After conversion, Poonam was being kept at the house of a political activist. However, we donÂ’t know where she is now,” he said.

According to the family, on September 8, three friends of Poonam’s, Uzma, Farah, and Aisha invited her to play with them in their locality of Meeran Naka, Lyari. However, the girls, reportedly, handed Poonam over to perpetrators who abducted her and later on converted her.

“When we came to know where she was staying, we all immediately went to meet her. It was the first day of Eid and she was surrounded by several people who did not let us speak to her in private. She seemed very fearful and did not speak much. When I asked her if she wanted to go with us, she refused and feared that I would kill her if she went with us. She is my child, how can I kill her,” cried her mother, Bhoori.

Meanwhile, the political activist, Sultan Bahadur Khan, rejected the claims that girl was forcibly converted and said that she had acted according to her own free will. He added that he was giving her shelter as she did not want to go back home and now she had left his house and went to some other place.

However, representatives of the Hindu community and Human Rights activists believed that the girl was forcibly converted and appealed for her return.

A member of the Pakistan Hindu Council, Mangla Sharma, said that since the girl belonged to an illiterate family and did not go to school, she had no prior knowledge about the religion. “Being so young and illiterate, I believe that she has converted due to the pressure exerted by her perpetrators. On the other hand, the stakeholders should chalk out a strategy and guidelines for someone who wants to convert and only adults should be allowed to convert to other faiths.”

Talking about the increase in incidents of forced conversions, Abdul Hai of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said, “The forced conversions of minority girls have reached an alarming level. Once these girls are converted, they are not allowed to meet their families or return home. We fear that these girls are being used in human trafficking, prostitution and in terrorist activities.”

Hai added that even if the girl had accepted Islam out of her free will, she should be allowed to return to her parents and live with them.

Meanwhile, fearing the wrath of the influentials for raising the issue, Poonam’s family, which belongs to the scheduled caste, have now shifted from their Lyari residence to a relative’s home in Shanti Nagar. An FIR has been lodged at the Chakiwara Police Station, 244/2010 for kidnapping the girl in which the three friends of the girl and a religious teacher have been nominated.
Source: The News
Date:9/15/2010