London: On August 31, Punjab police raided a house in Dhing Shah village, Kasur (Punjab- Pakistan) to recover a formerly Christian woman, Sajida, after a complaint was registered at the Khudian Police station, Kasur.
Police found Sajida fighting for her life and gasping for breath. Her face was fully burnt as family members had thrown boiling water on her face.
But she was not only burnt and was also suffering from several severe head injuries which had maggots in them because she had not been treated in time.
Keeping in view her condition she was rushed to the DHQ hospital but because of her critical condition the doctor referred her to Jinnah hospital, Lahore, where she was admitted.
Sajida had to converted to Islam eight years ago to marry a Muslim man, Aslam Dogar. But the family never accepted her as their daughter in law. Her utensils for eating and other things were kept separate from the main household kitchen. She was still considered a Christian and never treated as a family member. She was subjected to torture and humiliation on a daily basis because of her Christian religion. Because of daily torture she was suffering from several severe injuries but all her ways to escape were blocked as she was detained on the third floor of the house, where no one could go apart from the male family members.
A few days before the police were called Aslam, his brothers Asif and Shahid threw boiling water on Sajida’s face in an attempt to kill her but she survived and the arrival of the police saved her life.
Sajida’s husband, and one of his brothers have been arrested, the other brother escaped during the police raid. A case has been registered against Sajida’s husband and his two brothers.
Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK said such treatment to Christian girls and women is not new and happens very often but is hardly reported in the media.
He said: “Interfaith marriages are not acceptable in Pakistani society and women from other faiths, like Sajida, who convert to Islam are never respected.
“Their in- laws and distant relatives never accept them as a family member. In most cases they are still considered Christian or non-Muslims or whatever their previous religion.
“Sometimes their children are accepted because they are taught Islam from the very beginning.
“Non-Muslim girls are often enticed and once trapped they are forced to convert to Islam because without converting to Islam nobody would marry them. There are very few who genuinely marry non-Muslim girls, start a family with them, and give them the same rights and respect. Sometimes these girls are sold and even pushed into prostitution.
“Marrying a Muslim man in Pakistan mostly end ups in tragedy, like this case, or even worse as there are several parents who are still waiting to hear news about their daughters’ wellbeing.
“The girls who either married of their own free will or were kidnapped are never allowed to see their parents or other relatives.
“Sajida is lucky in a way that she got timely help and the police rescued her. I wish that she gets justice but keeping in view the many cases in the past, there is not much hope. It Is not just the in-laws and relatives who don’t give respect, but most factions of Pakistani society look upon them as if they are inferior.
For more information contact Nasir Saeed: firstname.lastname@example.org.Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is an interdenominational organisation working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan. CLAAS works for religious freedom, to stop persecution of Christians in Pakistan because of blasphemy and other discriminatory laws, raise awareness, disseminate information and highlight the plight of Christians on an international level. CLAAS provides free legal aid to victims of religious intolerance in Pakistan, as well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.