Rights experts from the United Nations have deplored abductions, forced marriages and conversions of girls from Pakistan’s religious minorities, urging the government to swiftly halt such practices.

“We are deeply troubled to hear that girls as young as 13 are being kidnapped from their families, trafficked to locations far from their homes,

made to marry men sometimes twice their age, and coerced to convert to Islam,” the experts said in a statement on Monday.

“We are very concerned that such marriages and conversions take place under threat of violence to these girls and women, or their families.”

The UN experts called on Pakistan’s government “to take immediate steps to prevent and thoroughly investigate these acts”.

In response, Pakistan’s federal minister for human rights, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, said the government is doing its best to ensure protection of human rights of the country’s minorities.

The UN experts’ statement came as activists from Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian communities continue to report abductions and forced conversions of young women in the Muslim majority nation.