ISLAMABAD: The minority community bears grave concerns over the rapid increase in abduction, forced religious conversion, and underage marriages of minority girls. The minority communities do not appreciate the gesture of rejecting the prohibition of forced conversion bill 2021 without discussing it with the concerned stakeholders. Considering the rapid increase in the incidence of abduction, religious conversion of minor minority girls and under marriages, the minority community demands a comprehensive legal framework to curtail such trends. Despite the 18 years of age in Sindh and 16 years of age in Punjab – as per the statutes, the continuous practices of underage marriages – particularly with minor minority girls, is demonstrating the failure of the state’s machinery to implement laws in letter and spirit. The government must set the legal age 18 years for marriage and make the national identity card mandatory to solemnize the marriage(s) for discouraging the perpetrators of such violence against girls – specifically minority girls. In its several articles, the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 ensures equal status of citizenship and accessible opportunities. Yet, the weak implementation machinery and non-serious attitude of the political decision-makers make it worse.
These were the panelists’ views in a press conference against the rejection of the Prohibition of Forced Conversion Bill, 2021, organized by the Minority Caucus (MC) – a forum of the members of minority wings of mainstream political parties, held at the National Press Club Islamabad. The panelists include Lala Robin Daniel (President MC), Mr. Manzoor Anthony (Convener MC), Ms. Tahira Anjum (President Working Group on Minority Issues), Yasir Talib (Joint Secretary MC), Shabana Pervez Bhatti (Social Activist).