» 03/31/2012, 00.00
Faisalabad, the battle of a Christian woman for her family and religious freedom
Hanifan Bibi was segregated at home by her husband who converted to Islam following an extramarital affair with a Muslim woman. He wanted to take the house bought with money earned by his wife. The intervention of NCJP activists has helped justice prevail. Now the court will assess civil damages.
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) - She fought a tough battle against her husband, who wanted to drive her from the house she built over time thanks to the hard earned money of her own work, while the man - converted to Islam in November 2011 - spent his time on women and drinking. Hanifan Bibi's tenacity and the support of NCJP activists have allowed the woman to get justice in court so she can remain in her home with her children, pending the decision of the civil court in Faisalabad, which is to assess the instance of separation and alimony.
This is the story of suffering, abuse and oppression that emerges from the story of Hanifan Bibi (pictured), a 37 year old Christian, mother of two children, born and raised in a poor family of Gurala Dajkot, a district of Faisalabad (Punjab). For years her husband was abused her, leaving her alone at home with their children to waste his wife's hard earned money on drinking, women and partying. And when he returned, for short periods, the situation certainly did not not improve, because he beat her brutally.
However, the reality came crashing down four months ago when her husband Sarwar Masih decided to convert to Islam, taking the name of Muhammad Sarwar, following an extramarital affair that had been going on for some time with a Muslim woman, Nasreen Bibi. "Since I have not decided to change faith like him - Hanifan tells AsiaNews - he segregated me in the house" and by March 10 she found herself a prisoner in her own home.
Muhammad Sarwar, after locking up his wife, denounced her illegal possession of the house. With the collaboration of a group of Muslim families he filed a lawsuit in court and threatened the woman if she resisted.
Speaking to AsiaNews, local Christians and Muslims confirm that the man is a "despicable person who does not deserves trust," because he "engaged in dishonest behavior" and never wanted to work and help support the family. Instead he treated Hanifan like a maid, to "bring home money to feed the families" and ensure a decent life to their children.
Having learned of the issue, the activists of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church in Faisalabad intervened in defense of women. They obtained the dismissal of Harifan's trial, while judges have opened a civil case against the man for the separation and compensation. "I continue to receive threats from my ex-husband and his fellow Muslims," Hanifan Bibi, tells AsiaNews, but she remains steadfast in her faith and intention to see her rights recognized.
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