Islamabad: At least 124 incidents in 2022 were reported in Pakistan of forced faith conversions involving girls and women from minority communities which comprised 81 Hindu, 42 Christian, and one Sikh.
A Human Rights Observer 2023 fact sheet revealed that 23 per cent of girls were below 14 years of age, 36 per cent of them were between the age of 14 and 18 years, and only 12 per cent of the victims were adults, while the age of 28 per cent of the victims was not reported, reports Dawn news.
Sixty-five per cent of cases of forced faith conversion were reported in Sindh in 2022, followed by 33 per cent in Punjab, and 0.8 per cent each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The fact sheet revealed that the religious content against minorities increased in curriculum and textbooks during the year 2022 and a number of perennial and new challenges emerged in the education system, Dawn reported.
A report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) covers five key issues impacting religious minorities including discrimination in the education system, prevalence of forced faith conversions, abuse of blasphemy laws, establishment of the National Commission for Minorities and jail remissions for minority prisoners.
The fact sheet showed that as many as 171 people were accused under the blasphemy laws, 65 per cent of cases surfaced in Punjab and 19 per cent in Sindh.
The highest occurrence was observed in the districts of Karachi, followed by Chiniot, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Dera Ghazi Khan, Nankana Sahib, Lahore and Sheikhupura.
The highest number of victims (88) was Muslims, followed by 75 Ahmadis, four Christians, and two Hindus, while the religious identity of the two accused could not be ascertained.
Four accused were extra-judicially killed — two in Punjab and one each in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last year — which brings the number of extra-judicial killings to 88 persons in total during the period from 1987 to 2022, Dawn reported.