Claire Evans of International Christian Concern (ICC) says the case of a 14-year-old Christian girl in Pakistan who was kidnapped and forced marry her 45-year-old Muslim neighbor and convert to Islam is an all too familiar scene in Pakistan.
"What often happens in these kinds of abductions, the reason that they're doing it and they're forcing her into marriage is because once the marriage is made, she will be legally a Muslim," Evans explains. "So it's a forced conversion case as well as a human trafficking case."
A girl in such a situation is bound by Sharia law, which is what many of the courts in Pakistan rule based on rather than on civil laws. Evans says many countries are addressing the issue with Pakistan through diplomatic channels behind the scenes.
"When there is no discussion, when nobody is looking at them, that's when we see the increase in numbers really become more intense," the ICC spokesperson notes. "So it's very important to continue raising awareness and to do advocacy work on it and to make a statement that these kinds of human rights violations are not acceptable."
More than 1,000 young girls belonging to religious minorities, primarily Christian, are believed to be kidnapped and forced to marry older Muslim men each year.