The Sikh community is waking up from a long sleep of neglect of the female child to find that their daughters are being converted out of the faith they were born in. Websites, blogs, Youtube videos are being made daily to wake up our daughters so we can save them. But sometimes we forget that just as much effort needs to be made to wake up our parents and our leaders so our daughters can be raised never to become victims of extremists that try to convert them. How can we blame the girl alone, when her upbringing left her vulnerable? Sikh girls that are raised to be the perfect obedient daughters or to be the daughter with great independence or the ones that never had to see any problems.
Every parents dream is that their daughter is this perfect daughter that is obedient and always listens to her parents. But at what cost? The obedience is taught by force, not by reasoning or friendly explanation. Listening to some of the mothers of the daughters that converted you hear them talk about their daughter never going anywhere without family, being a straight A student and helping in the house; in short being the perfect child. These perfect daughters try to do everything to make their parents happy but somewhere deep down they always feel they don’t get the love in return they deserve. They feel this way either because their brothers are treated better even though they don’t do half the work the girls are required to do or they feel their small mistakes are punished too harshly. In short when someone else offers the girl the love she thinks she deserves, she gets blinded by it and is unable to see past it. And that false sense of love and security makes her lose the real love and security offered by family. But once the mistake is realized it is her family is not always willing to take her back and let things go back to normal. The once perfect obedient daughter is now an outcast, with nowhere to go.
The daughter with too many liberties is just as much of easy target as the obedient daughter for conversion into another faith, mostly Islam. The daughter with the strict parents leaves her faith and family for some love, the daughter with easy going parents leaves her faith for some discipline. These girls are brainwashed into believing that all their lives they have sinned and the only way they can be saved is through Islam. Because that is the only religion that forces girls to complete cover up and be protected from the bad eyes of men. What they aren’t taught is how the women are treated in Islam. But the point is the party girl is made to believe through Islam, she can finally settle down and live a respectable life. Her parents don’t object because they have always given their daughter the freedom to make her choices. For love, for sense of discipline she leaves her family and her religion. Which she could have got in her family but no one tried to teach her about her religion and the meaning of love was completely distorted.
Punjabi parents typically want to solve all the problems for their daughters before they can even know they have a problem. But what they don’t realize is that they are setting their daughters up for a great downfall later in life. Not only will she be unable to face problems in life when her parents can’t be there for her but she is open to being tricked into converting. When her family is not around anyone can come up to her and try to teach her that if she accepts a certain religion she won’t have problems anymore. And if by some odd chance of fate, her problem does go away after trying something of a new fate, she is sold for life. Not only she will convert but she will try to get people around her to convert, to solve their problems also. These kindof converts are the worst because they take down a lot more people with them and then they have nowhere to turn when they realize that religion is not a magic solution to make your problems disappear. Religion can teach us how to cope with problems, not magically make them all disappear, that is up to God.
Most girls that fall into conversion traps grow up without a strong presence of religion in their lives and are raised on culture values. To really help our daughters, sisters we need to bring Sikhism back into their lives and the lives of their parents. The only way for us to really do that is not by hard core scare tactics talking about all the negatives of Islam nor is it to be done by forcing them to listen to hours of Gurbani. It can only be done by the Gurudwara Committees and parents stepping up the game by hosting fun events like trips to amusement parks, camping, hiking and other similar events that are not against principles of Sikhism and mixing in the fun with education. Once someone learns about the basics of Sikhism, they become more open to learning more on their own. And that is another place where we fall behind; the answer we give for everything is listen to Gurbani. Our Gurudwara Sahibs have to take the first step and hold regular discussions on Sikhism so people can ask their questions and learn more. Educate properly in a fun manner on Sikhism, conversion rates will drop. Simple as that.
May Waheguru Ji give us strength to fight the extremist of all faiths and make this world a nicer place to live in.