Are Pakistani Christian and Hindu women daughters of a lesser God?

Ahmar Mustikhan
Ahmar MustikhanMar 23, 2015 | 11:16

Are Pakistani Christian and Hindu women daughters of a lesser God?

After ISIS fighters overran Yazidi villages in Iraq's Sinjar region last fall reports surfaced of massive scale of sexual slavery of Yazidi women that shook the world's conscience, but the barbaric movement defended its action. The ISIS said Allah, the almighty, ordered in the Quran, "(Successful are the believers) who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame (Quran 23:5-6),'" according to the USA Today. The US newspaper which cited the Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI, as the source, quoted the ISIS as saying, "It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn't reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse."However, much before the ISIS sexual slavery of Yazidi women and girls hit newspaper headlines and invited global outrage, Mumbai-based Islamic televangelist had defended the practice of sexual slavery. Zakir Naik, president of the Islamic research Foundation in India, who recently got 135,000 pound sterling from Saudi King Salman, explains at the time of the Prophet Muhammad Muslims were allowed to have sex with captured slave girls and women - the spoils of war - without marriage. "There are many verses in the Quran which say that you can have sex with those who are your wives and what your right-hand possesses," Naik said on his Peace TV explaining "right-hand possesses" meant girl and women slaves. Islamic historians admit during Muhammad's days, there were quite a few wars or jihad that the Prophet personally launched against the Jews and infidels to spread Islam.  


In the Battle of Khaybar, a Jewish teenager named Safiyya bint Huyay, 17, whose husband was slaughtered by Muhammad's army was captured and the Prophet married her. Safiyya's father Huyay ibn Akhtab, chief of the Jewish Bannu Nadir tribe, and her brothers were all killed by Muhammad's army. An Islamic site, alsiraj.net, describes the scene thus from the battle of Khaybar when Safiyya and her cousin were captured: "As they walked they crossed the battle field where there were bodies of dead Jews. Safiyya, may Allah be pleased with her, was patient and strong and she did not cry unlike her cousin who slapped her cheeks and screamed." The Prophet then took Safiyya, his newest bride, to Medina on his camel back, screening her from the public eye after marrying her. "When the women in Medina knew that she was coming they looked forward to seeing her. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, noticed Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, hiding herself among the women to see her. Although she was veiled, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, identified her, held her dress and asked her, 'what did you see, O Shuqaira (blond woman)?' She out of jealousy answered, 'She is just a Jewish woman'".


In addition to Aisha, Muhammad's two other wives Hafsa bint Umar and Zaynab bint Jahsh -  the Prophet had dozen wives, called Ummahatul Momineen or "Mothers of Believers" - were also extremely jealous of Safiyya because of her beauty and used to taunt her over her Jewish ancestry, according to Islamic sources. Even after Muhammad's death, the practice of sexual slavery and forced marriages was followed diligently by his followers. One such case of marriage or sexual slavery pertained to the best known Muslim jihadist "Sword of Islam" Khalid bin Waleed whose killing of Malik bin Nuwayra and marrying his beautiful wife Laylah remains a source of controversy among Muslim historians themselves to this day. Some say Nuwayra killing was justified as he was an apostate and had refused to pay zakat or Islamic tax, while others insist Nuwayra was a staunch Muslim but Waleed killed him as he had eyes on Laylah's beauty.

Since marriages and having sex slaves is recognised in the Quran, according to Saudi-sponsored Naik, and there are many examples of it from Islam's early days of wars, men in the "fortress of Islam," the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, apparently have no qualms when it comes to forcibly abducting, raping and "marrying" minor Hindu and Christian girls even though Pakistan law prohibits marriage of any girl under 18. These actions and Pakistan civil-and-military establishment's penchant for pure Muslim population has seen a drastic decline of the minority population since the 1947 Partition Holocaust. Farahnaz Ispahani, a Pakistani scholar and aide to former president Asif Ali Zardari, in a paper titled "Cleansing Pakistan of Minorities", writes, "At the time of partition in 1947, almost 23 per cent of Pakistan's population was comprised of non-Muslim citizens.


Today, the proportion of non-Muslims has declined to approximately 3 per cent." Ispahani in her paper also mentions the case of Rinkel Kumari when Zardari and his Pakistan People's Party were in power. "She was abducted with the help of a ruling-party lawmaker and forced to marry and convert to Islam." Though Ispahani did not name the PPP leader, his name is Abdul Khaliq Mian Mithoo, a caretaker of the Pir of Bharchoondi Sharif shrine. "There are some politicians and religious leaders who have their cronies who go about kidnapping young minority women and use them for sexual pleasure," says Nazir S Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Congress. "After using these girls, they are then sold in the prostitution underworld.  This is a full-scale sex slavery business," Bhatti alleges. According to the Associated Press of Pakistan, the government registered 1,261 cases of kidnapping of women and girls, many of them minors, for forced marriage in 2014. Ravi Dawani, general secretary of the All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat says as many as 99 per cent of Hindu girls who are converted to Islam and forcibly married are under 13 years of age. Just in the months of October and November last year, 20 new cases of abduction-marriages of Hindu girls were registered in Sindh courts. Dawani points out at the rapidity with which Hindu girls are married and converted, within 24 hours of their abduction. He asks why was it necessary for a Hindu female to become a wife at the time of her conversion, wondering why can't she become a sister? In majority of the cases, nothing is known about the fate of the minor girls once they are taken away from their parents and married off under duress.

In most cases, Hindus have no door to knock for justice as Pakistani judges side with the rapist kidnappers. According to Hindu rights activist Shanker Meghwar ten-year-old Jeevani Baghri was abducted February 12, 2014 from Ghotki and 13 months later on March 11, 2015 the judge of the local sessions court handed her over to the kidnappers on the ground that she has converted to Islam and could not go back to her parents. In another case on December 14 last year, Meghwar said four armed men entered Bheel community home and abducted 13 year old Sindhi girl Jago Bheel. Meghwar said under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the age for the marriage of a girl is fixed at 18 years and any person contracting  a marriage with a girl under the age of 18 commits an offence, but in the case of Hindu girls the law is silent and so are all human rights activists. "Where should the Hindus go?" Meghwar asks in a Facebook posting. "We don't know which door to knock; we don't know before who to cry."  In seldom cases, a court may pass a verdict in favour of the parents, but those orders go unimplemented, Hindu rights in Pakistan say.

"Our community can bear looting and the kidnapping of our men, but the abduction of our daughters and wives is too painful," Bhagwan Das, who holds a National Assembly seat reserved for minorities, told Al Jazeera news. "Unfortunately, the frequency of these crimes is increasing due to religious extremism."If minor Hindu girls are targets in Sindh, minor Christian girls are sitting ducks for the Muslim men of Punjab province. To terrorize the hapless and sheepish community, Islamists attacked two churches in Lahore, capital of Punjab and hometown of Premier Nawaz Sharif, Sunday killing at least 17 people and wounding upwards of 80 worshippers. Both premier Sharif and his younger brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, enjoy excellent relations with Islamists, including Mumbai terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who has a $10 million bounty on his head but still moves freely under state protection, "Raping and killing the kafirs is justified in their basic Islamic ideology," said PCC chief Bhatti, who lives in Philadelphia.

He said Punjab, the stronghold of the army, is one of the most dangerous places in the world for Christians, including their females. He adds more than 99 per cent of rape and forced marriage cases, involving Christian females, go unreported in Pakistan. In one case of rape and abduction of a 12 year old Christian girl in Lahore, the militant organisation Lashkar-i-Taiba or "Army of the Pure," whose main target is India, produced a nikahnama or marriage certificate, claiming that the minor girl was married to one of their members, according to the Christian Freedom International. The non-profit Movement for Solidarity and Peace, MSP, says every year between 100 to 700 Christian women, "usually between the ages of 12 and 25 are abducted, converted to Islam, and married to the abductor or third party." In its investigative report "Forced Marriages & Forced Conversions in the Christian Community of Pakistan" the MSP notes that after abduction, these Christian women are subjected to "sexual violence, rape, forced prostitution, human trafficking and sale, or other domestic abuse" but in court, when asked to testify before the judge, these victims give a statement in favour of their captors out of fear. PCC's Bhatti said these hapless girls are threatened that since they have recited the kalima, Muslim declaration of believe in Allah and Muhammad, and embraced Islam now if they dare say they are Christians they will be killed for blasphemy and apostasy. 

Forced marriage, which is actually statutory rape, is being used in Pakistan as an instrument of arbitrary Islamic power over minority girls. "It is a form of violence that wants to reiterate the submission to Muslims. The rest of society is not outraged because the victims mostly belong to religious minorities, who are the most vulnerable. Rarely rapists are punished," Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill told Fides News Agency. However, a most horrific example of sexual slavery and rape in modern history took place in Bangladesh in 1971 when Pakistani soldiers went about "correcting the genes" of Bengalis by raping more than 200,000 women in just nine months, resulting in the birth of 25,000 Babies of War. Bina D'Costa, author of Nation building, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia, notes a visit by then army dictator Yahya Khan to Jessore. Pointing to Bengali villagers, he told a group of journalists, "Pehle inko Mussalman karo" (First, make them Muslim). A big chunk of the victims of rape in the Bangladesh war were Hindus, though even Muslim women were not spared just like in the days of Khalid bin Waleed.

Last updated: March 21, 2016 | 14:57
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