ACN (26.09.2019) – https://bit.ly/2ncFlyp – A surge in the number of under-age Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan being kidnapped, raped and forced to marry a Muslim and convert to Islam has been condemned by one of the country’s leading bishops.
In an interview with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore confirmed reports of abductions involving girls as young as 14—acts he condemned as “a crime. ”His comments come as research in Pakistan’s Punjab province found that up to 700 girls had been abducted in one year. He said: “Yes, [abductions of under-age girls] are happening” and he added that “there have been many kidnappings recently.” He continued: “Kidnapping is a crime. It has to be treated as one. This is the only way to stop it. The girls are usually 14, 15. The men often already have one wife. They can be 25 or older. They can also be younger, more like 20.”
He believed there was a religious aspect to the kidnappings, particularly as the girls are Hindu or Christian. Yet, the archbishop did not believe it was the only explanation. “It is lust. They think ‘she is pretty and I want her.’ It is a crime and it has a possible religious component too.”
Aid to the Church in Need funded 61 projects in Pakistan in 2018, including the construction of churches, training of religious and the formation of laity. Projects totaled almost $800,000.