A young Christian woman has died in Pakistan’s second largest city Lahore after she was disfigured with acid and set alight for refusing to marry a Muslim man, Christians and rights activists confirmed.
Asma Yacoob, a 25-year-old beautician, was reportedly attacked two weeks ago by Rizwan Gujjar, who is 30 because she turned down his marriage proposal. “Asma was friendly to Rizwan because he was her brother’s friend…But when Gujjar proposed marriage three months ago, she refused his advances,” said the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), which supports persecuted Christians.
The problems began on April 10 when Asma provided her beautician services to a bride outside Lahore in Pak Pura town in the Sialkot area, according to Christians with close knowledge about the situation.
“At around 11 pm [local time] she was told her brother had arrived and wanted to speak to her,” CLAAS said. “But when Asma went to the courtyard she saw Gujjar instead of her brother. He instantly threw large amounts of acid on her and then set her on fire before running away,” the group added.
The injured woman was in nearby Civil Hospital before being transferred to Mayo Hospital in Lahore, where she died some 11 days later, BosNewsLife learned.
Police have detained Gujjar, but it was not immediately clear Tuesday, April 24, when and if he will face a court. BosNewsLife mentioned the suspect’s name after publicly identified by several sources.
Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, told BosNewsLife that her death underscores “a real picture” of the treatment faced by Christians in Pakistan.
Christian girls, he said, are looked upon as “inferior and as a commodity” and receive no respect from society. “They are often harassed and intimidated at their workplace. They are often asked to convert to Islam and to marry Muslim colleagues.”
If they refuse they face dire consequences, he added. “Sometimes they are kidnaped and forcibly converted to Islam, and sometimes they are attacked with acid.”
Pakistan is a mainly Muslim nation where minority Christians are often targets for alleged blasphemy against Islam.