To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps the Government is taking on reports of kidnapping and forced conversions of religious minorities in Pakistan.
3 March 2022
The UK strongly condemns forced marriage and the forced conversion of women and girls. In November, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State for South Asia, spoke at the launch event for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Pakistani Minorities' report, 'Abductions, Forced Conversions, and Forced Marriages of Religious Minority Women and Girls in Pakistan', important research which puts the spotlight on this brutal practice. His speech underlined the UK's commitment to promoting freedom, choice and education for women and girls in Pakistan, as well as the UK's disappointment that draft legislation that would have criminalised forced conversions stalled in Pakistan's Parliament last year.
We regularly raise the issue of Freedom of Religion or Belief and women and girls' rights at a senior level with the Government of Pakistan. During his visit to Pakistan on 23 and 24 June 2021, Lord Ahmad met Prime Minister Khan, as well as other senior government ministers, and discussed these issues. He met interfaith leaders to understand the situation of Pakistani minorities, particularly the issue of forced conversion and marriage. Most recently, he discussed the need to promote respect for all religions with Governor of Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar on 28 November 2021. The FCDO funds programmes in Pakistan that directly address early and forced marriages and gender-based violence. The UK government has supported the Government of Pakistan in setting up eight child courts to provide child-sensitive justice to children who come in contact with the law, including victims of child abuse, trafficking and child marriage.