Arti Kumari Sharma, 20, was allegedly abducted at gunpoint at the weekend in the Khairpur District in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province and forced to marry a Muslim.
According to this report, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has called for the immediate release of Sharma, and her uncle, Kishwar Sharma, a Houston resident who escaped religious persecution in Pakistan to immigrate to the US, said:
I am deeply distraught to find out my niece was kidnapped at gunpoint near her house. Arti is engaged to be married in November and is the second girl to be kidnapped in my family.
Arti Sharma, a teacher at Qasim Model School, was abducted on her way home by a Muslim landlord, Ammer Wassan, and taken to a local mosque where she was forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will to a man named Amir Bux.
She was also reportedly coerced into signing an affidavit claiming that she married Bux and converted out of her own free will. Despite her family filing a First Information Report (FIR) with local police, Arti has not been allowed to return home
Said Rishi Bhutada, HAF Board Member and Houston resident:
Arti’s basic civil rights and freedom have been flagrantly violated, in contradiction of Pakistani law and international human rights law. We urge the Sindh High Court to order the immediate release and safe return of Arti to her family.
Many NGOs and human rights groups, including Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, have estimated that more than 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam annually. The courts and legal system in Pakistan are often complicit in sanctioning this practice by accepting false documents and statements obtained through force, threats, or coercion.
This report adds that an anti-conversion bill, unanimously passed in the Sindh Assembly, was roundly condemned by Muslim hardliners who described it as “anti-Islam”. and pushed the government to repeal it with immediate effect.