ASIA/PAKISTAN - Forced marriages: the most common crime against women
Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - he most widespread crime against women in Pakistan is forced marriage, says a Report of the NGO coalition "Free and Fair Election Pakistan" (FAFEN), which counted the official complaints recorded in 77 district offices of the police in March 2012. Forced marriages have replaced rape at the top of the most common crimes against women. The Report, sent to Fides Agency, notes an overall increase in complaints that indicates greater awareness among the Pakistani women who suffer abuse. Out of the districts monitored, 27 are in the province of Punjab, 21 in Sindh, 19 in Khyber Pakhtunhwa, 9 in Beluchistan and one in the territory of the capital, Islamabad. The cases of forced marriages has risen from 314 to 653 and have grown significantly in the district of Lahore, capital of Punjab, where 222 complaints have been filed. 220 are cases of rape, while assault and harassment are 270, 37 cases of honor killings. Of the total number of criminal complaints (over 41 thousand) those involving crimes against women are 9% of the total. According to Fides Agency data, there are about 1,000 cases per year of girls belonging to religious minorities, Christian and Hindu, who are forced into Muslim marriage. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/6/2012)
Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) - A new draft law to combat the phenomenon of forced conversions and marriages was presented to the government by the "National Commission for Minorities in Pakistan", which in past months had raised the issue (see Fides 12 / 4/2012). In the draft decision, the Commission, as reported to Fides, asks that, as a measure to limit forced conversions, one does not allow the converts from the Muslim community to marry for at least six months after conversion.
The Commission, created recently, spoke against the backdrop of a controversy that has inflamed the nation, over allegations of forced Islamic conversion and marriage of three Hindu women in the province of Sindh.
According to the Commission, a magistrate, and not a police officer, should be in charge to record, independently, the declarations of the supposed converts. According to the procedures currently in force, however, it is the police to register an official complaint ("First Information Report"), submitted by a family member of a convert, in accordance with Article 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. A police records the statements which are then transmitted to the court. According to religious minorities, such statements are often falsified to favor Muslims. The National Commission for Minorities is presided by the Minister of Harmony and includes two Muslim MP's, two Hindus, two Christians and a representative of the Sikh and Parsis community, as well as representatives of the ministries of interior, justice, national Harmony. As reported to Fides, the Minister of State for Harmony, Akram Masih Gill, remarked that the Commission will also address the "Council of Islamic Ideology," to seek consensus on the new proposed law, since "there are cases where women are kidnapped and repeatedly raped," to convert them.
The Commission will also send a draft of the "Christian and Hindu Marriage Act" - which recognizes the validity of such legal and civil unions - to MPs of religious minorities and other stakeholders, in order to finalize the bill and then present it in Parliament. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 14/6/2012)