July 2nd, 2012
Ashadh Pournima, Kaliyug Varsha 5114
KARACHI: The forced conversion and marriages of Hindu girls has become a common occurrence in Sindh. But what is even more alarming is that these girls are not being allowed to meet their families after conversion.
“There is no justice here. I am not allowed to meet my daughter because she is a Muslim and I am a Hindu,” said Sooda, a factory worker. His 14-year-old daughter, Rekha, was allegedly abducted in December from her house in Gadap Town by Asghar, the supervisor of the glass factory she worked at. Following the incident, the family filed a case and the matter was taken to the Malir court. Ten days later, a hearing was held in which Rekha said that she had converted and married Asghar out of her own choice. The case was dismissed after she made this statement and this was the last time that the family saw the girl, who was covered in a black chaddar.
Outside of court, the elders of Asghar’s tribe promised that Rekha would be allowed to meet her family, but these were not fulfilled. “I don’t know where my daughter is and if she is even alive,” said Sooda, as he sat in the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). “Asghar and his accomplices have switched off their cell phones and are nowhere to be found.” Rekha’s family, along with HRCP, will file a petition against her conversion and marriage in the Sindh High Court.
“If these girls do indeed convert under their own free will, then why are they not allowed to meet their families?” asked Abdul Hai, a representative of the HRCP. Religious scholar Mufti Muneebur Rehman said that a girl is allowed to meet her parents after conversion. “Islam permits the girl to stay in touch with her family. She can meet them whenever she wants, but it would not be appropriate for her to participate in religious festivities of her previous faith.”