Aid to the Church in Need (ACS) reports on its website that some projects have been formalized in collaboration with the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace of Pakistan (CCJP), for a campaign to protect Pakistani minors and young women belonging to religious minorities.
StandTogether has repeatedly reported on the serious cases of forced marriages in Pakistan where young Christian or other religious minority girls, often minors, are forced into marriage with Muslims.
“One of the most obvious challenges,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf, director of CCJP, “is the recent increase in cases of abduction, marriage and forced conversions.” This is not a new phenomenon, but unfortunately, there has been an acceleration due to the lack of adequate laws or enforcement of existing ones. In fact, it has happened several times, in some cases reported in the ACS article, in which judges have interpreted the law in favor of the kidnapper.
The initiative taken by the CCJP with the support of ACS foresees legal assistance to the victims, the confrontation with the political and institutional leaders at various levels, and a campaign to raise public awareness about this.
According to Pakistan’s Movement for Solidarity and Peace, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu girls and women between the ages of 12 and 25 are abducted each year, but unfortunately, there are many reasons why victims do not report because they don’t trust the law enforcement agencies suggest that the magnitude of the problem may be greater.
“The pressure of extremist groups on the courts, the biased attitude of the police, the fear of reprisals by the kidnapper, and the resulting stigma often force victims to make statements in favor of their kidnappers,” Director Yousaf explains in an interview with ACS.