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International: Pakistan – Forced conversions

October 2016

Forced conversions are still being carried out across Pakistan, reports from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) have claimed.

If any girl reconverts to Christianity, she is accused of apostasy, and while the state does not prohibit any citizen from converting or reconverting to any religion, the reality in Pakistani society is altogether different.

Quoting an article from Pakistani newspaper The Daily Times, CLAAS said hundreds of young Christian and Hindu girls are forcibly converted to Islam every year, but the media ‘very rarely highlights their stories’.

However, many of these stories can be easily found on social and in the international media. It cited stories of two young women, called Zeba Masih and Pooja, which made it onto the BBC website.

There was also the sad story of the hearing- and speech-disabled Christian girl, Asma, who is from Sialkot, as reported in September’s Evangelical Times. According to her lawyer, Hafiz Ateeq-ur-Rehman, she was kidnapped a few months ago by her neighbour, Ghulam Hussain, an influential person.

Despite knowing who the abductor of his daughter was, Gulzar Masih knew he was helpless, as he did not have the resources to fight for his daughters. Masih had lost hope of seeing his daughter again, but Asma somehow managed to escape. Now her captors are demanding that her father hand her back to them.

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