by Shafique Khokhar
Asthma Yaqood was 25 and worked as a beautician. She rejected Rizwan Gujjar’s marriage proposal, who also wanted her to convert to Islam. In recent months, there have been five acid attacks against members of minorities.
A 25-year-old Christian woman, Asma Yaqoob, died in Lahore after she was attacked and disfigured with acid.
Her only fault was to have spurned a 30-year-old Muslim man named Rizwan Gujjar. From Sialkot, the young woman succumbed yesterday to her injuries, after two weeks of agony.
“Minority women face double discrimination, or if you like, various layers of prejudice,” said Aila Gill, coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, speaking to AsiaNews.
“The government should take immediate notice of all these growing incidents of intolerance against minorities. Forced conversion of religious minorities should be criminalised and the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act should be enforced to prevent these crimes against women.”
Asma had been employed as a beautician for two years and was proud of her job. Her brother Nabeel, 23, works as a banner printer at Panaflex where he became a close friend of Rizwan, a Muslim.
In the past few months Rizwan became a regular visitor at the Yacoob house, and befriended Asma, and eventually fell in love with her.
About three months ago he asked her to marry him and convert to Islam, but she refused both requests.
In order to avoid problems for her brother, she did not tell her family. But after the refusal, the young Muslim becomes aggressive and violent towards her. She tried to avoid him and ignore him whenever he visited the family.
On 10 April, Rizwan’s anger and frustration boiled over. He went to Pak Pura town where Asma had gone to work on the hair of a number of women who were preparing for a wedding.
Claiming to be her brother, Rizwan got Asma to come out to of the house where he attacked her, dousing her with acid and setting her on fire, before running away.
Asma’s screams attracted the relatives of the future bride, who rushed her to the nearest hospital. She was later transferred to the burn unit of the Mayo Hospital in Lahore. But the doctors could not save the young woman, who had burns over 90 per cent body.
Ms Gill noted that the aggression suffered by the young woman “is the fifth episode of its kind against the minorities of Pakistan in recent months. We are witnessing a worrying increase in violence and incidents of intolerance and extremism in our country. It’s so strange that a woman cannot say ‘no’ to a marriage proposal.”