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Freedom of Religion or Belief — [Ms Karen Buck in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 12th March 2020.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 1:30 pm, 12th March 2020

I certainly do. They are intertwined and wrapped around each other, and sometimes the situation is used in that way.

No precise figures are available, but Pakistani non-governmental organisations such as the Movement for Solidarity and Peace have estimated that each year around 1,000 Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan are kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and forcibly married or sold into prostitution.

I discussed that and other issues during my trip to Pakistan in October 2018. I travelled in a delegation with two other British parliamentarians, Ms Rimmer and Lord Alton from the other place. We spent five days in total in the wonderful country of Pakistan, having very productive meetings with Government officials, as well as several human rights NGOs. We also met representatives of various minority rights organisation and had the opportunity to visit some Christian communities, including in slum residences in Islamabad.

One thing that left a lasting impression on me and on the whole delegation was visiting those slums and the houses that people live in, and the people who were volunteers. One lady in particular was teaching children, from about five to 16, the rudimentary elements of education. If Christians have the opportunity to educate themselves, they have the opportunity to apply for the jobs. We need that issue to move forward and we will take that up as we go on.