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Abducted and Converted : 20 Year Old Hindu Girl Arti Kumari Sharma Falls Victim to Jihadis in Sindh, Pakistan

Arti’s case is not the first of its kind. Hundreds of Hindu girls are being kidnapped, raped and converted every month

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Hundreds of Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam annually. (representative image) Pixabay
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Washington, DC, September 12, 2017 — The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has called for the immediate release of Arti Kumari Sharma, a 20 year-old Hindu woman who was kidnapped at gunpoint this past Saturday near her home in Khairpur District in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.

Arti’s uncle, Kishwar Sharma, a Houston resident and native of Pakistan, recently escaped religious persecution in Pakistan to immigrate to the US.

“I am deeply distraught to find out my niece was kidnapped at gunpoint near her house,” said Sharma. “Arti is engaged to be married in November and is the second girl to be kidnapped in my family.”

Arti, a teacher at Qasim Model School, was abducted on her way home by a Muslim landlord, Ammer Wassan, taken to a local mosque where she was forcibly converted to Islam and married against her will to a man named Amir Bux. She was also reportedly coerced into signing an affidavit claiming that she married Bux and converted out of her own free will.

Despite her family filing a First Information Report with local police, Arti has not been allowed to return home and will be brought before the Sindh High Court on September 12.

Arti Kumari
Arti Kumari Sharma. Twiter

“Arti’s basic civil rights and freedom have been flagrantly violated, in contradiction of Pakistani law and international human rights law,” said Rishi Bhutada, HAF Board Member and Houston resident. “We urge the Sindh High Court to order the immediate release and safe return of Arti to her family.”

Many NGOs and human rights groups, including Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and the Movement for Solidarity and Peace, have estimated that more than 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls and women are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam annually. The courts and legal system in Pakistan are often complicit in sanctioning this practice by accepting false documents and statements obtained through force, threats, or coercion.

The Foundation has extensively documented this trend and other human rights violations against Pakistani Hindus in its annual human rights report, Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights, 2017.

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UN Expert Vitit Muntarbhorn Warns Against LGBTQ Rights Violations

"More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied," believes Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN' first independent expert on the rights of LGBT

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LGBTQ
A protester to support all students sign from National Center for transgender equality, Source : Wikimedia

United Nations, October 28, 2017 : Immediate action is needed to stop human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a UN human rights expert has said.

“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’ first independent expert on the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

“LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults.

“They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide,” he told the UN General Assembly on Friday.

“More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied,” Xinhua quoted Muntarbhorn as saying.

Even where there is no law criminalising consensual same-sex relations, laws on public decency, public order and social peace are used to incriminate people under the umbrella of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he noted.

Muntarbhorn who is from Thailand said all laws criminalising same-sex relationships should be removed from the statute books, and no other legal measures should be used to target sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent.

It was also imperative to remove the death penalty for all cases related to the criminalization of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he stressed.

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“There is a need for effective anti-discrimination measures covering both the public and private spheres. Not only formal but substantive, not only de jure but also de facto, in addition to the building of a community open to understanding and respecting sexual and gender diversity,” said the expert.

To be effective, anti-discrimination frameworks should provide for effective measures to investigate alleged violations, redress for victims and accountability for alleged perpetrators, he said.

Muntarbhorn also expressed concern that human rights defenders were being increasingly targeted for their work in raising issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. (IANS)