In the remote village of Ghorghasht in Buner District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Priya Rani, a 17-year-old Sikh girl was on her way to school on Thursday when she went missing. Hours later, Muslim neighbors started knocking on her family home’s doors, congratulating her relatives of her marriage and her conversion to Islam. The parents, the siblings and the extended family – who all live under the same roof – were shocked.
“She is seventeen. She did not know what was going on. She has been tricked into this. We went to the police and complained,” Mahinder Lal, her uncle, who is one of the complainants in the case, told WION’s Taha Siddiqui.
Nearly 1000 underage girls from minority religions are forced to convert to Islam each year in Pakistan.
In Sindh province, where such cases of abduction are more prevalent, government recently tried to introduce a law to ban forced conversion of religious minorities and marriage of girls who have not turned 18 yet, but the religious lobby took to streets, calling the law anti-Islam, forcing the provincial government to take it back, with a promise of introducing it after a review.
Among the 200 million population, religious minorities comprise of less than 2% of Pakistanis, as per current estimates. Many of them are fleeing, human rights observers say, making them a fast disappearing segment of society.