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Pakistan must act to end forced child marriage: UN experts

On Monday, UN rights experts condemned the reported increase in forced marriages, abductions, and conversions of girls from Pakistan’s religious minorities.

UN experts urged the government to put an end to such practises immediately.

 Experts said:

“We are deeply troubled to hear that girl as young as 13 are being kidnapped from their families, trafficked to locations far from their homes, made to marry men sometimes twice their age, and coerced to convert to Islam.”

“We are very concerned that such marriages and conversions take place under threat of violence to these girls and women or their families.”

Experts urge the Government of Pakistan “to take immediate steps to prevent and thoroughly investigate these acts”.

Among the approximately twelve independent United Nations rights experts are the special rapporteurs on modern forms of slavery, violence against women, the sale and sexual exploitation of children, and minority issues.

It stated that such investigations should be conducted “objectively and in accordance with national law and international human rights commitments.”

The experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council but do not speak on its behalf, cited reports indicating that Pakistan’s judicial system encourages crimes against religious minorities’ young women and girls “by accepting, without critical examination, fraudulent evidence.”

They stated:

“Family members say that victims’ complaints are rarely taken seriously by the police, either refusing to register these reports or arguing that no crime has been committed by labelling these abductions as ‘love marriages.”

Experts say kidnappers frequently “make their victims sign documents that falsely attest to their being of legal age for marriage, as well as for marrying and converting of free will.”

These documents were used by the police to prove that no crime had been committed.

The experts emphasised the importance of all victims, regardless of religious background, having access to justice and equal protection under the law.

Pakistan Authorities

Pakistan Authorities stated:

“Must adopt and enforce legislation prohibiting forced conversions, forced and child marriages, kidnapping, and trafficking”.

Pavan Manzoor
Written By

Pavan Manzoor is an experienced content writer , editor and social media handler along with a track record of youth-oriented activities in Pakistan and abroad. She was selected as a fully-funded delegate as a leadership fellow in Turkey. She also led a team of 5 volunteers at the week-long Young Professionals Fellowship in Maldives. She is also a member of the Youth Standing Committee on Higher Education.

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