By Our Staff Reporter
LAHORE: The Peoples Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR) organised a People’s Inquiry into ‘alleged forced conversions and trafficking of minority women’.
Victims and witnesses who had experienced forced conversions and fake marriages with Chinese men shared their first-hand accounts under an oath.
Prominent human rights activists, legal experts, journalists and academics participated in the Peoples Inquiry including I.A. Rehman, Khawar Mumtaz (Chairperson, National Commission on Status of Women), Maria Iqbal Tarana (Member NCSW), Mubashir Zaidi (journalist), Fatima Atif, minority rights activist), Wajahat Masood, Fr. Bonnie Mendes, Saroop Ijaz (Advocate) and Karamat Ali.
The jury of the Peoples’ Inquiry was composed of former UN Special Advisor on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jillani, Justice Kailashnath Kohli, senior advocates Jamshed Rehmat Ullah, and Parkash Mehtani. I.A. Rehman, Aoun Sahi and Mubashir Zaidi presented an overview of the issues.
Peter Jacob (Chairperson, PCMR) emphasised the need to understand the issue at hand in its entirety vis-a-vis the role of contributing factors such as gender, poverty, religious discrimination and demography.
A research study prepared by PCMR, “Silence of the Lamb” was shared with participants that provides a working definition and the evidence about the phenomenon and occurrence of forced conversion as well recommendations to effectively address the issue.
The People’s Inquiry concluded with observations about vigilant societal role against the gender-based exploitation and transparent investigation into faith and gender based crimes committed against minority women.
The Jury held that the state must act to safeguard its citizens from all human rights violations including forced faith conversion, forced marriage, trafficking, children marriage, rape, gang-rape, kidnapping and abduction, whether committed by individuals or groups.
The participants resolved under oath that they will strive to uphold the standards of truth, justice & fairness as well as work towards providing relief to victims of forced conversions & related crimes.