The European Commission is enabling a culture of horrific child abuse and is exporting the same destructive culture to Europe.

13-year-old Christian girl, Sania Amin, went missing on April 4 after she left home to buy groceries in Anjotar, a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Local eyewitnesses reported that three Muslims took her by force and dragged her through the streets. Pakistani police refused to register a “First Information Report” (FIR) for Sania’s abduction. 

Christian Today reported on April 15: 

A Christian family in Pakistan has been left devastated after police refused to register a case about the alleged kidnapping and forced marriage of their 13-year-old daughter, Sania Amin. Despite the frantic appeals of her father Amin Masih, authorities have turned a blind eye, claiming the young girl converted to Islam and wed her supposed abductor … The distraught family has made repeated pleas to investigators, even presenting documents that appear to show Sania’s forced conversion and wedding. However, the police have remained unmoved, indifferent to the potential criminality of marrying a child.

This is not an isolated case. Pakistan has an endemic of abductions, rapes, forced conversions, and forced marriages of minority children and women. The Associated Press reported in 2020 that, each year, nearly 1,000 non-Muslim girls are forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan, largely to pave the way for underage marriages that are non-consensual. 

The lack of accountability for perpetrators has led to a surge in these types of crimes. In the first four months of this year, there has been a sharp increase in similar cases impacting young Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan. Consider the case of Chanda Maharaj, also known as Chanda Kumari, a Hindu girl. Based on a court ruling, she has recently been sent back to the Muslim man who abducted her. This occurred after she spent a year and three months in a shelter home. Chanda was 15 when she was kidnapped by a Muslim on 12 August 2022. The incident occurred in Sindh, Pakistan while she was walking home with her sister. Marco Respinti, a journalist with Bitter Winterreported on March 15: 

Initially, the police refused to take action on the complaint filed by the Hindu girl’s parents. Finally, after the international campaign supporting her, in October 2022 Chanda was rescued by police from her ‘husband’ and taken to a shelter home. However, on October 20 a court ruled that her conversion and ‘marriage’ were valid and sent her back to her kidnapper, Shaman Magsi. The parents appealed, and in December 2022 Chandra was taken again to the shelter home although she had clearly expressed to the court her wish to be with her family.

The Pakistani persecution against Chanda did not end there. In March of 2024, the court determined that Chanda’s biological age made it legal for her to be with her ‘husband,’ although her birth certificate said she was not yet 17. As a result, she was taken back to her abductor. Respinti notes that, “There has been no hearing; she has not been heard [at a court of law], and her parents learned about her situation after she was taken back to the home of her kidnapper [against her will].”

On 11 April 2024, UN experts expressed dismay at the continuing lack of protection for young women and girls belonging to minority communities in Pakistan. The UN Office of the High Commissioner summarized their report:

“Christian and Hindu girls remain particularly vulnerable to forced religious conversion, abduction, trafficking, child, early and forced marriage, domestic servitude and sexual violence,” the experts said. “The exposure of young women and girls belonging to religious minority communities to such heinous human rights violations and the impunity of such crimes can no longer be tolerated or justified.”

The experts expressed concern that forced marriages and religious conversions of girls from religious minorities which have been coerced are validated by the courts, often invoking religious law to justify keeping victims with their abductors rather than allowing them to return them to their parents. “Perpetrators often escape accountability, with police dismissing crimes under the guise of ‘love marriages,’” they said.

The experts highlighted specific cases of forced religious conversions, including Mishal Rasheed—a young girl who was abducted at gunpoint from her home while preparing for school in 2022. Rasheed was sexually assaulted, forcibly converted to Islam and forced to marry her abductor.

A 2023 report by the World Sindhi Congress (WSC) also noted the police and judicial system’s lack of assistance for the abused girls:

During the court or trial, judges are often strongly influenced by Islamic religious groups or individuals that advocate the conversion of Hindu girls to Islam. Very often, police officers and jury members have personal ties with influential Islamic groups who convince them to apply Sharia law during trial processes. Moreover, courtrooms are usually full of individuals shouting slogans that advocate Islamic principles as well as the conversion of victims.

The situation in the country continues to aggravate as the governmental response and actions remain minimal. Islamic groups have also been preventing the enforcement of laws brought up by the National Assembly of Pakistan and the provinces like Sindh. Furthermore, due to the influential position of Islamist groups, political parties in the country have commonly been reluctant to raise the issue within the Parliament. The lack of measures taken by Pakistani authorities to support minorities has overall left religious minorities, regardless of their gender, unprotected.

In a 2021 Joint Motion for a Resolution, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) statedthat “abduction, forced conversion to Islam, rape, and forced marriage remained an imminent threat for religious minority women and children in 2020, particularly those from the Hindu and Christian faiths.” Silvia Sardone, a MEP, also brought this issue to the attention of the parliament in 2020: 

Although the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act forbids marriage under the age of 18, a court in Pakistan has ruled that the forced abduction, conversion and marriage of Huma Younus, a 14-year-old Christian girl from Karachi, is valid. The judges ruled that as per Sharia law, even if Huma was a minor, the marriage between her and her abductor Abdul Jabbar is valid as she had already had her first menstrual cycle.

Meanwhile, Pakistan remains a recipient of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+). This is despite concerns raised in the GSP+ assessment of Pakistan regarding the number of kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu and Christian children.

The EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) “gives developing countries a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance. In return, the EU cuts its import duties to zero on more than two thirds of the tariff lines of their exports.” This preferential status is conditional on GSP+ countries demonstrating tangible progress in the implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labor rights, good governance, and other issues.

MEP Sardone asked the European Commission:

Given the growing concerns regarding the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, and increasing violence against women and girls, will the Commission consider suspending Pakistan’s GSP+ mechanism in the light of its repeated violations of international conventions? Does Pakistan’s GSP+ country scorecard cover the rights of the child? What actions can the Commission take to return Huma Younus to her Christian home and protect other girls in future?

In 2023, after referring to the alarming human rights situation, the ongoing economic crisis, and the persistent political instability in Pakistan, another MEP, Peter van Dalen on behalf of the EPP (European People’s Party) Group, asked the same question: “Does the Commission consider that Pakistan should be eligible to continue to benefit from the GSP+ scheme beyond 2023?” Meanwhile, Pakistan ranks seventh in the Open Doors World Watch List 2024, which monitors Christian persecution on a global scale.

Despite Pakistan’s outrageous human rights record, in October 2023, the European Parliament voted to extend the current GSP for another four years (until 2027) for developing countries, including Pakistan. The EU remains Pakistan’s second biggest trading partner. Sadly, the European Commission—through its trade with Pakistan and its silence about Pakistan’s crimes—not only enables this culture of horrific abuse of non-Muslim children and women at the hands of Muslim men, but also exports the same destructive culture to Europe through Muslim mass migration. 

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