A human rights group working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith condemned the “forced conversion” of a 13-year-old girl who works as a household help in Pakistan.
“Perhaps Pakistan is the only country where such crimes are happening on a daily basis under the cover of Islam,” said Nasir Saeed, director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS).
He said the forced conversion of the girl is “the most egregious example of modern slavery and religious abuse.”
“There is no room for such callous justification in modern society. Pakistan cannot continue in the dark ages of Islamic practices to enslave Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan,” said Saeed.
CLAAS reported that a Muslim doctor “forcefully converted” Neha, a 13-year-old Christian girl, to Islam to allow her to work in their family kitchen.
Neha’s parents, Munawar Masih and Mehtan Bibi work with a local landlord. They have eight children.
To survive, the parents sent two of the children — Neha and her 11-year-old sister Sneha — to work in the house of a local doctor.
The girls would be given about US$63 per month and would live in the doctor’s household. At the end of the month, the employer only gave US$19, supposedly because the girls were still young.
Neha and Sneha worked in the household for four years. They later started complaining about mistreatment and even physical assault. They told their family that they wanted to go home.
The father, Masih, requested the doctor to return the children, but the employer refused to send Neha home because she had already supposedly embraced Islam.
“It cannot be justified at any cost that a young girl was converted to Islam against her will and without her parents’ knowledge and now she cannot be returned to her parents because her parents are Christians, and she cannot be allowed to live them,” said Saeed of CLAAS.
He said the doctor’s action “is a criminal act but since the government is not paying any attention to such crimes happening every day with Christian and other religious minorities, people continue to commit such crimes with impunity.”
“No such law exists in Pakistan under which any child can be converted to Islam and enslaved for life time in the name of Islam,” said Saeed. “It is a serious violation of local and international human rights laws, especially the convention on children Rights, that Pakistan has ratified,” he added.
CLAAS urged the government of Pakistan to immediately intervene and register a case against the doctor and help the family to get their daughter back.
“Pakistan already has the worst record of human rights violations and mistreating its minorities, such cases can further harm Pakistan’s image and make things worse for the country at the international level,” said Saeed.
Pakistan is considered the fifth most dangerous country in the world for Christians, the European Union has already issued warnings and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has designated Pakistan a country of particular concern for violation of religious freedom.