A Pakistani Christian woman who converted to Islam to get married has been viciously attacked by her husband.
Police found the woman, Sajida, fighting for her life and gasping for breath after the attack in Dhing Shah village, Kasur - her face had been fully burnt after family members threw boiling water on her.
Authorities say that she was not only burnt but was also suffering from several severe head injuries which had maggots in them because she had not been treated in time.
Sajida 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 convert to Islam eight years ago to marry a Muslim man, Aslam Dogar. However, according to reports from the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), the family never accepted her as their daughter in law.
For example, 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 also subjected to torture and humiliation on a daily basis because of her Christian faith.
Sajida’s husband and one of his brothers have been arrested for their role in the attack, while another brother who was involved 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 this type of abuse towards Christian girls is common and happens very often, but is hardly ever 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."