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Pakistan Takes Action Against Issue of Forced Marriage and Forced Conversion

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Pakistan – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), the government of Pakistan announced it is setting up a special center to examine the forced marriage and forced conversion of underage girls from the country’s minority communities.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Aide on Religious Affairs, Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, in a tweet published on December 16.

“A Special Coordination Center has been established to address the issues of minorities,” Ashrafi’s tweet read. “No one will be allowed to make panic in the country on the issues of forceful conversion and underage marriages.”

The announcement by the government follows several high profile cases of forced marriage and forced conversion capturing international headlines, including the case of Arzoo Raja. In October 2020, Arzoo, a 13-year-old Christian girl from Karachi, was allegedly abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted to Islam by her 44-year-old Muslim neighbor.

Christian leaders in Pakistan have welcomed the government’s action. Vincent Thomas, Head of the Interfaith Dialogue Commission of the Archdiocese of Karachi, told UCAN, “At times we have to face problems in reaching out to government officials on the issues of minorities. This special center can definitely help save our time and efforts, but we will see how it benefits minorities and improves interfaith harmony.”

According to a 2014 study by the Movement for Solidarity and Peace Pakistan, an estimated 1,000 Christian and Hindu women are abducted, forcefully married, and forcefully converted every year. Many of the victims are minors. Sexual assaults and fraudulent marriages are used by perpetrators to entrap victims and authorities are often complicit.

The issue of religion is injected into cases of sexual assault to place victims from religious minority communities at a disadvantage. Playing upon religious biases, perpetrators know they can cover up and justify their crimes by introducing an element of religion.

Sources:persecution

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ഭൂകമ്പം ഫിജിയെ പിടിച്ചുകുലുക്കി, റിക്ടർ സ്കെയിലിൽ 6.0 രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിയ ഭൂചലനം

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സുവ: ദ്വീപ് രാജ്യമായ ഫിജിയിൽ ഭൂചലനം. റിക്ടർ സ്‌കെയിലിൽ 6.0 തീവ്രത രേഖപ്പെടുത്തിയ ഭൂചലനത്തിൽ നാശനഷ്ടങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ടായതായി റിപ്പോർട്ടില്ല. 398 കിലോമീറ്റർ ആഴത്തിൽ പ്രകമ്പനം അനുഭവപ്പെട്ടതായി യുഎസ് ഭൗമശാസ്ത്ര കേന്ദ്രം അറിയിച്ചു. ലെവൂക്ക നഗരത്തിന് 340 കിലോമീറ്റർ കിഴക്ക് മാറിയായിരുന്നു പ്രകമ്പനം. പ്രാദേശിക സമയം രാവിലെ 11.35 ഓടെയായിരുന്നു ഭൂചലനം അനുഭവപ്പെട്ടത്. സുനാമി മുന്നറിയിപ്പുകളൊന്നും നൽകിയിട്ടില്ലെന്ന് അധികൃതർ അറിയിച്ചു. ഭൂചലനം ഉണ്ടായ വിവരം ജർമ്മൻ ജിയോസയൻസ് റിസർച്ച് സെന്ററും സ്ഥിരീകരിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്.

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Archaeologists discover rare 2,000-y-o oil lamp in Jerusalem’s City of David on Pilgrimage Road

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The Israel Antiquities Authority announced the discovery of a rare oil lamp, with its wick still preserved, from under the foundation of a building erected on Jerusalem’s famed Pilgrimage Road soon after the destruction of the Second Temple almost 2,000 years ago.

The IAA researchers believe the bronze lamp, shaped like a grotesque face cut in half and estimated to be from the late first century or the early second century CE, was put in the foundation of the building in Jerusalem’s City of David for good fortune, The Times of Israel reported.

“This half of a lamp, and in fact half a face, which was discovered in the City of David, is a very rare object, with only a few discovered in the whole world, and is the first of its kind to be discovered in Jerusalem,” Yuval Baruch of the IAA was quoted as saying.

“It is possible that the importance of the building, and the need to bless its activity with luck by burying a foundation deposit, was due to its proximity to the Siloam Pool, which was also used in the Roman period as the central source of water within the city,” IAA archaeologist Ari Levy told The Jerusalem Post.

Speaking to Haaretz, Levy explained, “Foundation deposits, in general, go back to the dim reaches of antiquity. It was accepted in construction in general, to bring luck and symbolic defense of the building — and to cast fear and awe on attackers. Its significance was highly symbolic, not functional.”

Haaretz said the lamp featured a goaty male half-face complete with (half a) satyr’s beard and a horned forehead.

Only one other such lamp has ever been found in an archaeological context — and that was in Budapest, according to Levy.

Experts believe that Pilgrimage Road, where the building had been erected, is the path ancient Jews walked to reach the Temple Mount three times a year — in the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.

“The street was built during the period of Governor Pontius Pilates,” Levy said. “It was inaugurated around the year 30 CE and it was used for about 40 years until the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.”

Baruch added: “Decorated bronze oil lamps were discovered throughout the Roman Empire. For the most part, such oil lamps stood on stylish candelabras or were hung on a chain. Collections around the world contain thousands of these bronze lamps, many of which were made in intricate shapes, indicating the artistic freedom that Roman metal artists possessed.”
Sources:Christian Post

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