Hindus kidnapped, forced to marry Muslims

April 23, 2012 at 12:03 PM
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JACOBABAD, Pakistan, April 23 (UPI) -- Many teenage Hindu girls in Pakistan are kidnapped each month by Muslim men who force them to convert to Islam and marry them, human rights activists say.

Most of the kidnappings, up to 25 a month, occur in the northern districts of the Sindh province on the border with India, the Hindu-dominated country Pakistan considers an enemy, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hindus say the forced conversions and marriages follow a pattern. The victim is abducted by a young man related to or working for a Muslim feudal chief, then taken to a mosque where clerics and the prospective groom's family threaten to harm her and her relatives if she resists. The Muslim man often is accompanied by supporters with rifles and few members of the girl's family are allowed to appear.

The girl usually complies and is then taken to a local court where a judge approves the conversion and marriage, say Hindu community members who have attended the hearings.

"In court, usually it's just four or five members of the girl's family against hundreds of armed people for the boy," said B.H. Khurana, a doctor in Jacobabad and a Hindu community leader. "In such a situation when we are unarmed and outnumbered, how can we fight our case in court?"

Hindu leaders have been joined by some prominent Pakistani Muslims in focusing on the kidnappings and forced marriages.

Azra Fazal Pechuho, a lawmaker and the sister of President Asif Ali Zardari, and other lawmakers called for legislation to ban the practice.

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