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Pakistani Hindus daughters relinquish to forced Muslim marriages

Last year, the legislature in Southern province of Sindh passed a legislation that outlawed the forced conversion of those below age 18, but it never came into effect

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Pakistani Hindus
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Lahore, Feb 28, 2017: Last spring, Anila Dhawan was abducted from her home in Hyderabad, Pakistan. She was forced to marry the abductor and convert to Islam.

The police refused to step in. Her abductor stated that Voluntarily, the girl had eloped from home, converted into Islam and married him. But post her family mounting pressure on the court, she spoke the truth to the judges and she was freed.

“Her life was threatened,” her attorney, Ramesh Gupta, stated. “She wanted to go back to her parents and the statement (she made to the court) helped to sway the decision in her favor and she was freed to join her family.”

Anila is among those Pakistani Hindu girls who are abducted due to draconian religious discrimination in a country that comprises of 98 per cent Muslim majority.

According to South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, a local human rights group, every year, it is estimated muslim men abduct about 1000 girls of Christianity and Hinduism faith but mostly Hindu girls. According to Pakistan Hindu Council, about 5000 Pakistani Hindus flee to neighbouring country India where 80 per cent population practises Hinduism. They flee to evade the religious persecution and discrimination.

Last year, the legislature in Southern province of Sindh (where the Kohlis reside) passed a legislation that outlawed the forced conversion of those below age 18, but it never came into effect. Conservative Islamic factions and groups objected to this measure and criticised the 5 years imprisonment on those who were guilty of forcing conversion. They produced the rationale that the law was ‘anti-Islamic’ and an endeavour to make Pakistan a secular country.

“We will not remain silent on this controversial law,” said Hafiz Saeed, a leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a self-proclaimed charity that the United States has declared a terrorist group.

In January the measure was vetoed by Sindh government. The legislative defeat was a major let down to human rights, activists stated.

“The problem of conversions is real,” said Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a mewmber of the Pakistan Hindu Council and parliament. “We are not against the conversion of religion as a result of research or preaching. But why are only underage Hindu girls in Sindh changing religion?”

For instance, last summer’s night, Ameri Kashi Kohli’s 14-year-old daughter was abducted from her home while she was sleeping in Southern Pakistan.

It was a harrowing experience for her when she discovered what happened to her daughter.  “She had been converted to Islam and became the second wife of our landlord,” Kohli stated. Her landlord falsely claimed that the teen was compensation for a $1,000 debt the family owed him.

On top of that, the police refused to intervene. “They just said forget your daughter, she has converted,” Kohli described. They said “my daughter Jeevti is now known as Fatima.”

The defeat of the bill exhibited that religious conservatives have considerable power in the country.

“Government after government, military and civilian, have caved in to pressure from the extremists,” said Farahnaz Ispahani, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., who specialises in Pakistan’s minorities. “It is imperative for the government to stand by the people it represents. The bill to stop enforced conversion must be passed unaltered.”

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She said that the muslim leaders are critical of new protections extended to religious minorities and woman to and safeguarding them, especially women.

As per Kohli, she says she has lost her daughter. The landlord produced an affidavit from the teen and claimed that she was neither forced to convert nor marry and she ran away voluntarily. The parents claim she was forced to write this. As per Husband’s wishes, she was not allowed to meet her family or friends.

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Kohli stated that the plight of her daughter speaks volume about the uncertain future of Hindus in Pakistan.

“There (are) many Fatimas in this country,” Kohli stated. “But does this country have place for a Jeevti?”

Many stories dealing with such appalling and gruesome stature come across in Pakistan but no action is taken to prevent this social evil.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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Tech Giant Google Slammed over Human Rights, China Project by Top ex-official

The tech giant has been accused of "union busting" and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked the employees for allegedly violating the company's data security policies

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A top-notch former executive has blasted Google over its handling of human rights at its offices, alleging that he was sidelined when raised questions over the tech giant’s search engine project called “Dragonfly” for the China market.

Ross LaJeunesse, now a Democratic candidate for US Senate in Maine who worked as Google’s Head of International Relations, wrote on Medium that no longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight.

“The company’s motto used to be aDon’t be evil.’ Dragonfly was only one of several developments that concerned those of us who still believed in the mantra of ‘Don’t be evil’. I was also concerned that Cloud executives were actively pursuing deals with the Saudi government, given its horrible record of human rights abuses,” LaJeunesse said in the post on Thursday.

In December 2017, Google announced the establishment of the Google Center for Artificial Intelligence in Beijing.

“A colleague was suddenly re-assigned to lead the policy team discussions for Dragonfly. As someone who consistently advocated for a human rights-based approach, I was being sidelined from the on-going conversations on whether to launch Dragonfly,” the Google executive added.

“Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price”.

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai (Now the Alphabet CEO) told US regulators last year that Google had ano plans’ to launch the censored search engine project “right now”. The company which is blocked in China abandoned the project.

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FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

However, some Google employees reportedly believe they found evidence that Google’s plans to launch Dragonfly in China are still ongoing.

LaJeunesse also slammed Google for its handling of human rights – an issue that has led to internal advocacy within the company.

“It was no different in the workplace culture. Senior colleagues bullied and screamed at young women, causing them to cry at their desks. At an all-hands meeting, my boss said, ‘now you Asians come to the microphone too. I know you don’t like to ask questions’,” wrote LaJeunesse.

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He said: “I think the important question is what does it mean when one of America’s marque’ companies changes so dramatically. Is it the inevitable outcome of a corporate culture that rewards growth and profits over social impact and responsibility?”

The US government has launched a probe into Google over its labour practices following a complaint from employees who have been fired by the tech giant.

The tech giant has been accused of “union busting” and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked the employees for allegedly violating the company’s data security policies. (IANS)