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  • Writer's pictureMohinder Gulati

It could have been your daughter: Do IMF and World Bank care?

Greetings on the International Women’s Day. Imagine being in a country where you are economically, socially, politically marginalized; your daughters are kidnapped in broad daylight, forced to convert, married off to much older strangers, and after a few years sold to prostitution. Mosques and criminal-preachers sanctify it, police protects the kidnappers, administration falsifies the age-certificate to show your daughter is not a minor, courts hand over your daughter back to the abductors and not to you when they are hearing the case, media normalizes it as a love affair, and society shrugs it off as a minor injustice to kafirs. Such is the fate of unfortunate Hindus who stayed back in Pakistan, now abandoned by their motherland India and forgotten by the international community. Just for a moment think, she could have been your daughter.

The Global Hindu Temple Network, Hindu American Foundation, and five other organizations have prepared a well-researched report and written to the Executive Directors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank ( ) This is an appeal to their conscience to require Pakistan to protect Hindu, Christian, and Sikh girls and women from unspeakable atrocities before providing any financial support to Pakistan. The IMF and the World Bank are in clear violation of their own policies on gender discrimination and violence. An unprecedented joint report by six rapporteurs of the United Nations submitted to Pakistan government in October 2022 (Pakistan: UN rights experts urge action on coerced religious conversions, child marriage) has not only cited specific cases but also pointed out systemic failure and connivance of government and judiciary. Ms Farahnaz Ispahani, a former member of Pakistan parliament has written about it in her thought provoking book ” (Purifying the Land of the Pure: A History of Pakistan’s Religious Minorities). IMF and the World Bank are failing to demand that Pakistan comply with the United Nations report on atrocities on girls and women of Hindus, Christians and Sikhs.

IMF has a Senior Advisor (Gender), and both its Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director are women. We urge them to heed to the cries of these young girls being kidnapped, forcibly converted and married off to strangers, and often ending up as victims of human trafficking. The World Bank has a Global Director (Gender) but has failed to even raise this issue with Pakistan let alone demand compliance with its own policies.

Selected excerpts of the letter read “According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, more than 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls, very often minors, are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam every year. Often, after being abducted, these girls are forcibly married to random men, raped, sold into human trafficking rings, or forced into prostitution. These girls suffer intersectional discrimination on the basis of gender, poverty, and ethnic violence and are not protected by Pakistan’s institutions.

This is an egregious violation of Sustainable Development Goal-5 that requires the signatory States to inter-alia end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls, eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation, and eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage.“ You can read the letters and the special report prepared by HAF on the link provided above.

We urge the IMF and the World Bank:

(i) before approving any financial assistance to Pakistan, demand strict and sustained action against religious persecution and atrocities against girls of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians and

(ii) set up a system of monitoring and reporting compliance by Pakistan with covenants related to protection of girls and women of religious minorities.

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