Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother who has remained in prison since she was accused of blasphemy and arrested in 2010, is in failing health and suffering from debilitating intestinal bleeding, her family has said.
According to a report by The Global Dispatch, Bibi's family was permitted to visit with her in May, after not being allowed to see her for over a month. Following their visit, the faimly revealed that Bibi is "so weak that she can hardly walk."
Although Bibi is only 50, her health problems are only getting worse due to her abhorrent conditions, and she's in desperate need of medical attention, a family source said.
"When vomiting there is also shown traces of blood. Asia has difficulty feeding properly, while constant pain in the chest," The Global Dispatch quoted the unnamed family source as saying. "Therefore it is necessary that Asia Bibi be submitted as soon as possible [for] a full medical checkup, including blood work."
The source explained that Bibi's lawyers are working to get her the medical treatment she needs and are also hoping to have her transferred from the prison in Multan to a prison in Lahore, which is closer to her family and provides better healthcare.
As previously reported by the Gospel Herald, Bibi, who has five children, was first arrested in 2009 after getting into an argument with two Muslim field workers when the women refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she was not Muslim. In turn, Bibi was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammad, a serious charge which carries the death penalty.
Currently, Pakistan's highest court is reviewing an appeal of Bibi's sentence to death by hanging, the final legal step before the sentence can be carried out. "If the Church will get involved it could be [easier to secure her freedom]," Bibi's lawyer, Joseph Nadeem, said in an interview with Vatican Radio in April.
In April, Bibi's family met with Pope Francis in the Vatican, where he prayed with them and they urged him to lobby the Pakistani government for her release.
Meanwhile, Christians within Pakistan continue to support Bibi, with leaders calling on authorities to reverse the sentence.
Haroon Barkat, director of the Masihi Foundation, a group working to protect Christians from blasphemy laws, added that "international pressures and mobilization can be useful" in influencing the case.
Barkat said that above all, "the political will of the government and of the highest authorities in Pakistan is needed" to put an end to the many false blasphemy cases in the country.