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sap seminar for law against conversion indian muslim observer

October 30, 2014

Pakistan: SAP-PK for law against Forced Conversion, Marriages

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Pakistan-Attack on Minorities3

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By Ghulam Abbas Kassar

Hyderabad, Pakistan: South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) conducted follow up meeting of consultation on draft of force marriage and conversion under Right of Expression, Association, Assembly and Thoughts REAT) on 24, October, 2014 at Regent Plaza Hotel Karachi Sindh Pakistan. The main objectives of follow up were to assess the issues of forced marriage and conversion, design strategies and recommendation about draft of force marriage and conversion at provincial assembly on legislation and bills for countering the force marriage and conversion issues of religious minorities.

The meeting was attended by Rochiram Advocate, Muhammad Hussain Maehnati X MPA of Jamait Islami,Ravi Dawani General secretary of all Hindu Pnchait of Pakistan, Shahnaz Sheedi provincial coordinator SAP PK,Rafia Gulani, Dr Jaipal Chaberia, HRCP, Saleem Michial, Maria Ismile, Awami Awaz, Abdul Rasheed Pirzada, Barner Newton advocate, Irshad Junejo SAP PK, Shahid Jameel SAP PK and others. They have unanimously contributed in protection measures of forced marriage and conversion in Sindh Pakistan.

On this occasion, Ms Shahnaz Sheedi, Provincial Coordinator, SAP- PK said that forced marriage and conversion are major issues of religious minorities in Sindh and increasing rapidly. She further said that a discussion is pertinent about the draft of forced marriage and conversion which prevent the religious communities and counter the issues of religious communities.She further said that cases of forced marriage and conversion are reported in assessment of South Asia Partnership Pakistan that 260 cases in Punjab,69 in Sindh, 39 KPK and 6 in Baluchistan.This follow meeting will discussed on core issues of forced marriage and conversion which will help to counter in draft. She said that political parties, media and civil society organization develop consensus about force marriage protection measures and final draft will be submitted to provincial assembly for legislation.

Ms. Paras sang the Bhajan for celebrating the Deewali festival of Hindu community. She engaged the groups of girls and boys of Hindu religion and prayed for prosperity and equality in land of sufis. They gave the message of truth as propogaed by Lord Ram.

Pakistan-Attack on Minorities3Michael Saleem said that forced marriage and conversion are major issues of religious communities. He said that Supreme Court of Pakistan has given judgment that these are social issues and not religious minorities issues of Pakistan. He said that the judgment of Supreme Court needs to be unequivocally condemned.He said that these kind of issues referred to human rights and said that he will be sharing these with the national and provincial assemblies of Pakistan. He said that there is need of law on forced marriage and conversion. He said that forced marriage and conversion issues exist in Pakistan. He said that the girls of minority communities are kidnapped, sexually harassed and converted. The kidnappers often threaten the girls and their families of killing. Mostly girls withdraw the cases and accept the Islam.

Ravi Dawani, General Secretary of All Hindu Panchait Pakistan, said that forced marriage and conversion issues exist in society. He said that role of media is very important which can telecast the positive role in society. He said that on eve of Deewali 14,000 workers were not given salaries for celebration. He said there many laws exist, but are not implemented which are major concerns in Pakistan. He said that Hindu girls have been kidnapped and parents are facing issues. He said that if a religious leader is involved in forced marriage and conversion, he should be punished accordingly. He said that schools are not religious places which are teaching the religions. He further said that Article 29 of CRC guarantees that every child has basic rights and elimination of discrimination on basis religion. The Constitution of Pakistan is also providing freedom of religion, but is not implemented. Converted girls /women should have permission to meet with parents. Converted women and girls should be available during the case hearing in courts and submit the statement in written in front of judicial magistrate. Complaint mechanism of converted girls should be placed for satisfaction of parents.

Muhammad Hussain Mehnati said that forced marriage and conversion are sensitive issues. The societal trends are contributing these kind of issues in Pakistan. The education setup has liberty and freedom of choice. Forced marriage is found within Muslims and other religions. He said that Pakistan is Muslim dominant state where Hindu is claiming that our Hindu girls are forcedly converted. Islam is stable religion and any individuals should think about before accepting the Islam. He said that every citizen has right to change the religion and freedom of expression. He said that if any forced marriage and conversion issue exist in Pakistan than we have to take collective efforts to design draft of force marriage and conversion for legislation.

Ms. Rafia Gulani, women rights activist, said that why women are restricted at all level; Due to poor legislation and implementation of existing law in Pakistan. She said that women are dominant by religions and feudal lords. She added that state should implement the law for protection of citizens. She said that we have lacking legal protection that’s why they are using the religious protection which is increasing the issues of all citizens and mostly Hindu communities in Pakistan.

Dr. Jaipal Chaberia member of human rights commission of Pakistan said that why only hindu are converted. He aid that our girls are kidnapped and sexually harassed and forcedly converted. He shared the situation of Hindu communities that schedule caste women and girls are very and have much influence of religious leaders. He added still there is no legislation on force marriage and conversion and Hindu girls are killed in name the religion discrimination. Force marriage law should be implemented. It will be restricted under age of 18 years as exist in law. He said that government should form the committee for protection of converted girls of religious communities. He said that we are all equal as well as all religions are equal.

Rochiram South Asia partnership Pakistan said that forced religious conversion is major issues of religious minorities and mostly are facing at large scale. It was only discussed in assemblies but not recognize as severe issues. The Hindu communities are migrating from fear and insecurity at grass root level. He added that district Government or police department are in under pressure of political and religious influential and not taking action against culprits of force marriage and conversion in Sindh . He said that due to forced religious conversion of minority girls and their kidnapping have spread wave of fear and discomfort among the minorities. He urged the house to make such legislation to determine the minimum age for marriage and also effective law to determine the age of kidnapped girls.

[Ghulam Abbas Kassar is a Journalist in Hyderabad, Pakistan and presently working as bureau chief of daily Messenger Karachi and Lahore Times (online) and is a member of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and European Journalism Center. He can be reached at kassar_hyd@yahoo.com or on his phone at 92 3453585137]

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