GHRD receives reports of young girls being sold in Pakistan

Global Human Rights Defence has received reports that young girls from minority communities are being sold in Pakistan. A local news bulletin from a mosque in Pakistan appears to have published a list of girls from minority communities with corresponding prices.

GHRD, with our partner Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), continues to monitor the situation closely and the fate of these girls is, as of yet, unknown. Women remain one of the most vulnerable groups in Pakistan, with gender-based violence remaining a serious problem in the country. Young girls from minority communities are often the victims of forced marriage or prostitution with the authorities refusing to take action to put a stop to such practices.

Pakistan became a state party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1996. Pakistan is bound by these obligations. CEDAW is specifically aimed at furthering women’s rights and establishing their equality with men by fighting discrimination.[1]

Girls belonging to religious minorities are often the victims of forced marriages. A report by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace in Pakistan found that at least 1000 girls belonging to Christian and Hindu communities are forced to marry Muslim men every year. According to the  former vice-chair persons of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 20 or more Hindu girls are abducted monthly in Pakistan.[2] Child marriages make up a great part of those forced marriages. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Household Survey (PDHS 2006-7), 13% of girls in the country are married by the time they are 15 and 40% by 18 years.

Under Article 2 CEDAW, Pakistan has the general obligation to respect, protect and fulfil women’s right to non-discrimination and to the enjoyment of equality. The obligation to protect requires that States parties protect women from discrimination by private actors and take steps directly aimed at eliminating customary and all other practices that prejudice and perpetuate the notion of inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes.

According to a 2018 report of Sahil, a Pakistani NGO working against child sexual abuse in Pakistan, reported cases of children sexual abuse increased by 11% in 2018, going from 3445 in 2017 to 3832. Out of the total amount of cases, 55% victims were girls and 45% were boys. Within South East Asia, Pakistan is among one of the main destinations where children get trafficked for purposes of forced prostitution. Pakistan is also one of the main transit countries, with women and children coming through when being trafficked to the Middle East.[3]

Pakistan is under the obligation to end this barbaric practice and bring to justice the perpetrators of such human rights violations against women. GHRD condemns these practices and calls on Pakistan to protect those most vulnerable in society. GHRD and HRFP continue to investigate the situation and advocate for those in need.

[1] Article 1 CEDAW,

[2] Reuben Ackerman, ‘Forced Conversions & Forced Marriages in Sindh, Pakistan’ (2018, Commonwealth Initiative for Freedom of Religion or Belief (CIFORB), the University of Birmingham), p.6/7, accessed 10 January 2020.

[3] ECPAT Sex Trafficking of Children in Pakistan (2016), p.1.

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