A Pakistani Christian woman has died after she was set on fire by a Muslim man because she refused his marriage proposal.
According to reports, Asma Yaqoob, 25, from the Punjab city of Sialkot passed away Sunday as burns covered as much as 90 percent of her body following a mid-April attack that was believed to be carried out by a Muslim friend of the family named Rizwan Gujjar.
Her father, Yaqoob Masih, filed a report with local police, in which he recounted the horrific incident. Her father explained that his daughter was working at the house of Saeeduz Zaman in Mohalla Pakpura area of Sialkot when she was attacked.
"On April 17, my son Maqsood and I went to Zaman's house ... to meet Asma and to inquire after the health of Zaman's mother," Masih was quoted as writing in the police report. "We were sitting in a room when there was a knock on the front gate. Asma went out to see who had come when after some time we heard her screaming in pain. Zaman, Maqsood and I rushed outside to see what had happened and saw the accused Rizwan Gujjar fleeing from the scene while Asma was engulfed in flames."
Police sub-inspector Muhammad Riaz confirmed Gujjar's arrest and told Pakistan Today that Gujjar confessed to the crime.
"We have prepared the charge sheet and sent him to jail," Riaz told the outlet.
Gujja took a liking to Asma while working with her brother, Nabeel, and had asked the young woman to marry him about three months ago. After she declined, he became angry and covered her in flammable liquid before setting her on fire.
"Asma's family were persistent in getting her the best treatment they could find, and traveled hundreds of miles to a hospital equipped with a burn unit," BPCA officer Mehwish Bhatti said in a statement. "They did everything they could possibly do. This family will have a lot of trauma to work through and they are in shock. It is hard for anyone to see the life of a loved one so young and full of talent snuffed out."
Nasir Saeed, Director CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement - a group who support persecuted Christians in Pakistan), in the UK said this was just one example of how Christian women are treated in Pakistan, saying: "They are often harassed and intimidated at their workplace. They are often asked to convert to Islam and to marry Muslim colleagues."
"Such cases are becoming everyday matters and the police hardly make any advances, especially if the victim is Christian," the organization said. "Christian girls are looked upon as inferior and as a commodity, and have no respect in society."
The attack was condemned by the Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry, who called on the country's politicians to do more to protect the Christian minority:
This depraved attack reveals the low worth of Christian girls in the mindset that has evolved amongst most Muslim men in Pakistan. Through a biased national curriculum and rogue Imams preaching a special place in heaven for those who rape and convert Christian girls, most of them deem minority women as war-booty.
Seeing young Asma in such pain is heart-wrenching for all of us in the West, but the authorities of Pakistan just seem to accept this as the culture of Pakistan. It is this warped belief that has to be reconstructed before we can start to fashion a new more egalitarian nation, however the desire will have to be one driven by the country's Government-sadly I have never experienced a more selfish bunch of politicians.
Pakistan ranks as the fifth-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2018 World Watch List.