Aasia Bibi Urges PM Imran To Act Against Forced Conversions, Marriages Of Christian Girls

Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent 10 years on death row over blasphemy charges before being acquitted by Supreme Court, has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the forced conversions and marriages of young Christian girls in Pakistan.

In an interview with a foreign media outlet, Bibi said there are many cases in Pakistan where girls have been forced to accept Islam and married to their abductors against their will. They were also raped after the abduction, said Bibi.

In a plea to the PM, Bibi asked him to help these persecuted girls because 'no one should suffer like that'. She also urged mothers to never leave their daughters alone.

At this, the interviewer mentioned the cases of Huma Younus and Maira Shahbaz, saying it was simply a matter of justice that the government tries and 'restore their freedom so they can live normal lives'.

Aasia Bibi further said that Pakistan was not 'just about minorities or majority, it is for all citizens of the country'. She added as per the constitution of Pakistan, every citizen has the freedom to live and practice their way of life.

Bill proposes seven-year jail over forced conversions:

On Aug 25, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Javed Abbasi tabled a bill against forced conversions in the Senate that proposed seven-year imprisonment and Rs100,000 fine in case an accused is found guilty of forced proselytisation.

According to the draft of the Protection of the Rights of Religious Minorities Bill, the state would take measures to curb the forced conversion of minority communities and would also support the victims in case of such an incident. The bill also proposed 10 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,000 in case of forcing someone to change religion for marriage.

It further said the marriage of a minor arranged after changing her/his religion would be considered ‘coerced’ and be declared void with any haste.

In a bid to further strengthen protections that the state gives to the minority communities, the draft proposes three years jail time and Rs50,000 fine in case of hate speech or maltreatment of a member of a non-Muslim community. It also bans discriminatory chapters in textbooks.

An individual found guilty of discriminating against a person on the basis of their religion would be jailed for one year in addition to a Rs25,000 fine.

The state would also protect the religious symbols of the non-Muslim Pakistanis, the draft said, proposing a seven-year sentence and Rs50,000 fine in such an incident. All of these sentences would be non-bailable, as per the bill.