PPP concerned about reports of forced conversions

Islamabad: Expressing concern over reports of forced conversions, especially of Hindu women in the country, the ruling Pakistan People's Party has called for legal reforms to tackle the issue.

The reconstituted Human Rights Cell of the PPP expressed concern at the reported forced conversions during a meeting chaired yesterday by its coordinator Nafisa Shah.

The meeting resolved that all efforts would be made within the PPP for promoting the rights of minority communities.

"The Pakistan People's Party has always been very clear on rights of minorities and their protection, as enshrined in the Constitution," said Shah, who is the party's central coordinator on human rights.

In a report sent to PPP's leadership on forced conversions, the Human Rights Cell recommended that there should be legal reforms, especially in the standard operation procedures of law enforcement agencies, to tackle the problem.

The law enforcement agencies "should ensure than any runaway girls or those kidnapped should have neutral institutional space where they are able to take decisions on both issues of religion and marriage, free from any influence or coercion," the Human Rights Cell said in a statement.

The Cell decided to visit "women crisis centres" and report to the PPP on the state of women living at the facilities.

The Cell will also visit jails to meet prisoners, assess the state of detention centres and propose necessary reforms, the statement said.

The meeting of PPP's Human Rights Cell was held against the backdrop of the Supreme Court hearing of the case of two Hindu women, who were allegedly kidnapped and forcibly converted.

An apex court bench headed by the Chief Justice yesterday directed authorities to keep the two women, Rinkle Kumari and Lata Kumari, in a women's home in Karachi for three weeks so that they could decide about their future in an atmosphere free from pressure.