Forced conversions.

THE laments of Pakistani Hindu families losing one young girl after another to what they allege are forced conversions and marriage to Muslim men were bound to draw international attention at some point. Finally, that has come to pass. In a statement issued in Geneva on Monday, UN human rights experts expressed alarm over increasing reports of abductions, forced marriages and conversions of girls and young women in this country. They demanded immediate steps be taken to put an end to these depredations and ensure justice. The statement pointed out the institutional bias against the females placed in this predicament, with the police and judiciary often found extending support to the perpetrators instead of the victims.

The UN experts' concern is not misplaced. Although the issues highlighted constitute multiple violations of both Pakistan's domestic law and the country's international obligations, the fact of conversion appears to trump all other concerns in an increasingly conservative society. Time and again - most commonly in Sindh which is home to a majority of Pakistani Hindus - newly converted minors, rather than being handed over to their families, have been 'allowed' to live with their often much older 'husbands', thereby putting them at heightened risk of domestic abuse and childbirth...

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