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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Reena Meghwar – abducted, raped, converted and ‘married’; now her family is assaulted and threatened

The issue of abduction, rape, forced conversion and marriage of a Hindu girl named Reena Meghwar, has now led to her family being assaulted and threatened for pursuing her recovery and an attempt to kidnap an eight-year-old cousin of Reena named Jyoti.

Reena was kidnapped on 13 February by a middle-aged man named Muhammad Qasim from Kario Ghanwar town, Badin, Sindh province. She was forcefully converted to Islam and named Maryam and then married to Qasim. The family had lodged an FIR but police failed to recover the girl.

Around late April, a video of the poor girl crying from the roof of her abductor’s house went viral, where she was heard screaming for help, and wanting to return to her parents else she would commit suicide.

Though Reena was seen and heard crying in broad daylight from the rooftops, none of her neighbors helped though the chatter of several women can be heard in the same video. After the video surfaced, police took the girl into custody for her ‘protection’.

The very next day, she was produced before a civil judge and the Badin judicial magistrate to record her statement. The girl fainted in the court before her statement could be recorded. A doctor was called to tend to the girl, who confirmed that she was under stress. Still her statement was recorded the same day, and she was sent back to her ‘husband’.

The counsel for the girl’s parents, Advocate Ram Kohli said that they would challenge the ruling in the high court. He added, “it appears that Qasim’s family is using pressure tactics to force her into giving a statement in their favor” and that Reena was afraid of the Khaskhelis – Qasim’s family.

The girl’s video pleading for help had emerged a few days after another video of her sitting among male police officials and one female constable appeared, where she was heard stating that she is happy with her ‘husband’. However, her body language suggested anything but.

Her later pleas for help from the rooftop of her abductor’s house shows how little value such choreographed statements in front of police and judges really have in a country known for its brutal persecution of minorities. 

 Now, Reena’s family has been assaulted and threatened for pursuing her recovery through legal means, reports Rahat Austin, a Pakistani human rights activist living in exile in Korea. 

The twitter handle of a group called ‘Centre For Assistance to Minorities Pakistan’ reports that the brother of the man who kidnapped Reena has tried to kidnap her cousin Jyoti, who is just 8-years-old!

Note – this case is different from that of the minor sisters, Reena and Raveena Meghwar, aged 12 and 14 years respectively, who were similarly abducted and married off to older Muslim men around the time of the Holi festival in 2019.

Amazingly, despite over 1000 such cases of abductions of minor girls from minority Hindu and Christian communities being reported each year, Sindh and the rest of Pakistan still does not have a law banning such illegal conversions and marriages. There is a well-oiled Islamist machinery consisting of the likes of Sufi cleric Mian Mithoo, who along with his brother controls the powerful Bharchundi Sharif dargah, that facilitate and provide religious-legal cover to this racket. 

Even the few well-meaning human rights activists in Pakistan know perfectly well that putting an end to such conversions to Islam and preying on minor non-Muslim girls is not remotely possible as long as there are toxic mullahs lurking around. To fool the international community, the Pakistani state indulges in farce declaring that laws to protect their minorities are in the pipeline and save the same words for the next rape/ conversion to happen.

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