The abduction of Christian girls in Pakistan has worsened, according to a report by the Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic pastoral aid organization.
“The problem is becoming more acute day by day,” the report quoted Father Emmanuel Yousaf, director of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Pakistan.
The priest said those most affected are members of the Christian and Hindu minorities in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.
“One reason is that all this happens mainly to Christians and Hindus. The pressure comes from Pakistani society and the Muslim side. They put pressure on the families and the girls,” said Father Yousaf.
“Even the lawyers are afraid to deal with such cases, and so are the judges,” he added.
The priest said radical Muslims in Pakistan are a small but influential minority. “I have many Muslim friends, but they are the silent majority, that is the problem,” he said.
Christians, who make up less than two percent of Pakistan’s population, must contend with many prejudices in the country, he said.
“Many here think we can get a visa to travel abroad in no time, but that’s not true. They say we belong to Europe because we are Christians. But we are Pakistanis, and we love this country,” said the priest.
According to a report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2022, there were at least 78 documented cases of abduction, forcible conversion to Islam and forcible marriage of young women in Pakistan in 2021.
The study was prepared by the Center for Social Justice in Lahore. The CJS also speaks of at least 84 documented cases in 2021 in which Pakistanis were prosecuted for blasphemy.