In the Islamic Republic of Republic of Pakistan, 96.4% of the 208 million inhabitants are Muslims. Religious minorities often suffer massive discrimination. The rise of abductions, forced marriages and forced conversions of Christian and Hindu girls is particularly worrying. Therefore, in addition to classic aid projects, ACN especially supports measures of the Church in Pakistan that protect girls at risk.
At least 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls between the ages of 12 and 25 are abducted, raped, forcibly married and forced to convert to Islam in Pakistan every year, and it is assumed there is also a high number of unreported cases. The perpetrators usually go unpunished. This phenomenon is not new, but it has increased considerably in the recent past. There is a range of reasons for this. On the one hand, there are no adequate laws against these crimes. On the other, existing precautions to protect underage girls and women belonging to religious minorities are simply ignored or not implemented.
»Where the state fails, the Church in Pakistan becomes an advocate for religious minorities to protect them from discrimination and violence.«
ACN is aware of the difficult minority situation that young Christian women face in Pakistan. That is why we support the campaign to protect and safeguard the rights of vulnerable girls from religious minorities of the National Catholic Justice and Peace Commission in Lahore (NCJP). The campaign includes consulting with politicians, promoting social awareness of the problem and providing legal aid to victims.
In addition, ACN is sponsoring a programme to support young Christian women living in extremely difficult circumstances. We provided further funds to the Pakistani Catholic Church in the year under review for COVID emergency aid. We supported training aid for candidates for the priesthood, religious and lay people. Building projects and the procurement of vehicles also play a key role in our help.