Archbishop shines spotlight on abducted and abused minors in Pakistan
By Vatican News staff reporter
Every year 1,000 Christian and Hindu women and girls aged between 12 and 25 are seized in Pakistan.
That’s according to the Pakistan-based Movement for Solidarity and Peace.
These stark figures have prompted Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore to call on the international community to do more to address the kidnapping, sexual assault, and forced conversion of young people from Christian and other religious minorities in the country.
Vulnerable young people
Speaking during an event in Portugal at the shrine of Christ the King in Setúbal Diocese, the Archbishop described the dangers young people face.
“These children are not even free to play in the garden. We have a duty to speak about what is happening, to prevent these cases.”
He also highlighted the suffering parents face when their child is abducted.
“Just imagine the situation of these parents, who prepare their children’s schoolbags, send them off to class, and then never see them again because they were kidnapped.
“Sometimes their bodies are found, and they can hold the funerals, and mourn.
“But in other cases, all that the parents can do is cry over the disappearance of their children.”
During the event organised by the Portuguese office of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Shaw noted that the issue does not just affect girls. “Sometimes boys are also kidnapped, sexually abused, and often killed,” he said.
Archbishop Shaw underlined that the Pakistan government was trying to address the abduction, rape, forced marriage, and forced conversion of people from minority faith groups – but added that support from the international community can help tackle the problem.
He also said the Lahore Archdiocese was working on these issues through an inter-faith group.
Stressing the need to raise awareness of these cases, the Archbishop said that public events like this one, organized by Aid to the Church in Need, “are an important part of the effort to diminish the number of cases.”
In 2021, the UK office of ACN produced the report Hear Her Cries which looked at the kidnapping, forced conversion, and sexual victimisation of Christian women and girls.
It examined the problems Christian communities face in Egypt, Iraq, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Syria, as well as Pakistan.