NEW YORK: Pakistan is marketing Hindu and Christian women as "concubines" and "forced brides" to China, according to the top US diplomat for religious freedom, Samuel Brownback.
One of the sources of "forced brides" for Chinese men are "religious minorities, Christian and Hindu women, being marketed as concubines and as forced as brides into China", Brownback told reporters on Tuesday.
That was happening "because there's not effective support and there's discrimination against religious minorities that make them more vulnerable," he said.
He mentioned this as one of the reasons for designating Pakistan as a country of particular concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act.
Because of the one-child policy imposed by China for decades, there is an acute shortage of women given the cultural preference for boys leading to Chinese men importing women from other countries as brides, mistresses and labourers.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had recommended placing India also on the CPC, citing among other issues the Citizenship Amendement Act (CAA), but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected the suggestion when he announced the designations on Monday.
Brownback, however, said that Washington was watching the Indian situation closely and "these issues have been raised in private discussions at the government, high government level, and they will continue to get raised".
The CAA expedites citizenship for Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and Sikhs fleeing religious persecution in neighbouring Islamic or Muslim majority countries but does not prevent Muslims from getting citizenship after following the usual procedures.
The US has a legal provision similar to the CAA which is known as the Specter Amendment that is tucked into budget bill giving asylum to some non-Muslim minorities from Iran, while pointedly excluding Muslim.
Asked by a Pakistani reporter if there was a double standard in Pompeo giving Pakistan the CPC designation and not India, Brownback said that while in Pakistan, a lot of the actions against minorities are taken by the government, that was not the case in India.
Answering an American reporter's question why Pompeo did not follow the USCIRF recommendation to designate India as a CPC, Brownback said, "I can't go into the decision-making process that the Secretary went through."
But, he said Pompeo is "well aware of a lot of the communal violence that is happening in India as well as aware of the statutes that have been enacted and some of the issues associated with the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi government and, as I said, he has raised at the highest level, but just decided at this point in time not to place them on a CPC or a special watch list". (IANS)
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