Christian human rights campaigners are calling on the Pakistani government to do more to protect girls at risk of coerced conversion and forced marriage.
ADF International says around a thousand girls from religious minorities are converted to Islam against their will every year. It also believes the practice is growing in Afghanistan and across South Asia.
The organisation is urging people to sign an open letter to the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan calling for better protection from the authorities and an increase in the legal age of marriage from 16 to 18.
Director of ADF India, Tehmina Arora says an estimated 1,000 girls every year are abducted, kidnapped, and forced into marriage and then forcibly converted. “These are reports that have come out repeatedly from various human rights groups in Pakistan and that’s a really frightening statistic. The number of minor girls who are married off in Pakistan is among the highest in the world, according to the United Nations data. But the number of minor girls who belong to religious minorities are particularly vulnerable, because along with the kidnapping comes this forced conversion.
“Some of the girls that we’ve met because of the long process of working with our allies on the ground are as young as 12 , 14 and 15 years old, really young girls.”