Neha, a Christain by birth was forcibly converted from her religion to Islam and married to a 45 year old man. She is one of nearly 1,000 girls from religious minorties who have been forced to convert to Islam in Pakistan each year.
Human rights activists say that this practice has been increased during the coronavirus lockdowns, when girls are out of school and more available, bride traffickers are more active on the Internet and families are more in debt.
This month, the US State Department declared Pakistan "a country of particular concern" for religious freedom violations and the Pakistani government never admits this. The declaration was partially based on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom's assessment that underage girls in the Hindu, Christian, and Sikh minority communities were "kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam, forcibly married and raped."
Generally, the girls are kidnapped by either the relatives or acquaintances or men looking for brides. Often the wealthy landlords will take the girls away as payment for unpaid debts by girls' parents. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, once converted, the girls are quickly married off, either to older men or to their abductors.