No marriage ought to begin with violence or coercion. Yet, in Pakistan, this phenomenon is far more common than we would like to believe. Every year, hundreds of Christian and Hindu girls are forced to convert to Islam and marry their Muslim abductors, facing repeated rape, physical violence, and domestic servitude. When the girls’ parents seek help from the authorities, Pakistani courts often side with the perpetrators.
Pakistan’s culture of religious discrimination and the government’s inability to secure religious freedom endangers its citizens—and young girls often pay the highest price. This issue is worthy of attention from American diplomats and foreign policymakers, and it should become a focus of U.S. human rights diplomacy in South Asia.