To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what recent representations he has made to his Pakistani counterpart on (a) Maira Shahbaz, (b) Arzoo Raja and (c) other girls who have been kidnapped, forcibly converted and married in Pakistan.
26 January 2021
The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from religious minorities in Pakistan. We regularly raise our concerns on these issues with the Government of Pakistan. The Minister of State responsible for South Asia and Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, raised our human rights concerns, including Freedom of Religion or Belief, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 16 November. On 7 December, Lord Ahmad raised the human rights situation in Pakistan with the Special Advisor to the Prime Minister to the Interior, Shahzad Akbar. Lord Ahmad also raised our concerns about child, early and forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls from minority religious communities, with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights on 19 October.
Through the UK's development support, we are encouraging policy reform at federal and provincial level to strengthen child protection laws in order to prevent child marriage. The UK's Strengthening Rule of Law in Pakistan programme aims to increase public confidence and trust in the Rule of Law. It focuses on delivering outputs that improve the justice system for victims, witnesses and offenders, including vulnerable women and girls.