The Biden administration is being urged by the Family Research Council in a new report to battle the forced “marriages” of Christian girls to Islamic abductors who then chain them into slavery.
The violence abductions and torture inflicted on the girls, sometimes as young as 12 years old, has been reported more and more lately in Pakistan, the documentation confirmed, but the U.S. does have several options, including to prioritize the issue whenever diplomats meet.
Those efforts to apply “international pressure” have proven effective sometimes in the past, including in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row on a false charge of blasphemy but who was eventually released under intense scrutiny from other world players.
Also, the report said, there could be a congressional resolution urging that forced marriages be addressed, or there could be a section included in the annual report on “Trafficking in Persons” from the United States on the problem.
And there could be sanctions targeting specific Pakistani officials who are responsible for the violence against human rights.
“The U.S. government should identify Pakistani government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom to sanction. The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, utilizing Executive Order 13818, allows the president to block or revoke U.S. visas and to block all U.S.-based property of foreign persons engaged in serious human rights violations,” the report explains.
Further, the “International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 also provides for visa sanctions against foreign individuals accused of religious freedom violations.”
The report found, “This issue of forced conversion and forced marriage in Pakistan is harrowing. Victims are ill-positioned to speak for themselves, and Pakistan’s culture of religious discrimination and unwillingness to protect its minority citizens enables widespread human rights abuses. American officials should be bold in holding Pakistani government leaders and authorities accountable for allowing these crimes to continue and failing to aid the victims. Pakistan must be called to a higher standard of human rights conditions.”
The problem as described in the report is extensive and embedded deeply in Islamic beliefs.
“Every year, hundreds of Christian and Hindu girls are forced to convert to Islam and marry their Muslim abductors, facing repeated rape, physical violence, and domestic servitude,” the report said. “When the girls’ parents seek help from the authorities, Pakistani courts often side with the perpetrators.”
One recent case was one of several described in the report. It involved Farah Shaheen, who was 12 in 2020 when three men broke into her home and grabbed her.
The men also threatened her family never to try to bring her back.
“Terrified for Farah, her family reported the crime that same day, providing the police with the name and description of the lead abductor. The officers, however, refused to register the crime, verbally abusing the Christian family…”
The authorities maintained that decision for months, until September when officers finally filed a report.
“During this time, 12-year-old Farah endured horrors no child should. Immediately following her kidnapping, she was raped, forcefully converted to Islam, and married to her abductor. At his home, Farah spent her days either chained inside to clean the house or outside to care for the animals. The was frequently beaten and raped by her abuser and his landlords.”
Eventually, police took her to a “government safe house.” And when the case went to court, she won, and the marriage was declared invalid.
But not because of the violence, the torture, the kidnapping or the fact she was 12.
“Because her abuser had misfiled the marriage certificate,” the report said.
The situation is made worse because “police officers are … interfering with investigations by actively discouraging Christian and Hindu families from filing” complaints.
In fact, the report documented cases where police officers are Islamic, and were the abductors.
“The combination of religious tensions and the government’s miscarriage of justice creates an environment where perpetrators can target their victims and commit crimes with impunity,” the report said.
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