Combatting Forced Marriage of Young Women in Pakistan

No happy or legitimate marriage begins with abduction at gunpoint and vicious coercion to change your religion. However, this phenomenon is far more common than we would like to believe. Each year, hundreds of Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan 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 unwillingness of its leaders to protect its minority citizens points to larger problems. The Pakistani 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.

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