07/03/2023, 19.02
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Christian widow raped and killed in Lahore for refusing to convert

by Shafique Khokhar

Shazia Imran, a 40-year-old Christian widow, was killed by four men in murky circumstances because she did not want to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim man, Mani Gujjar. For activist Nadia Stephen, minority women and girls should not be subjected to abduction, rape, and murder simply because they refuse to abandon their religion.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Shazia Imran, a Christian woman, was kidnapped, raped and killed by four Muslim men because she refused to convert to Islam and marry a man who had set his eyes on her.

Mani Gujjar is the main suspect in the death of the 40-year-old Christian widow. After failing to get her to do what he wanted, he and others gang-raped her and, after killing her, tried to destroy her body with acid.

Shazia worked at a daycare centre at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) where she first met the man who now stands accused of her death.

On 6 June, when she did not return from work, her family searched for the mother of three – two boys, Salman (16) and Abrar (6), and one daughter, Aliza (7) – without success.

The next day, they went to the police to file a report, concerned because Shazia and her family were convinced that her husband was beaten to death 18 months earlier, not by "thugs", as the police asserted, but by the same people who killed Shazia.

Physical attacks and rape have been used countless times as coercive methods of conversion, above all, against women from religious minorities in Pakistan.

Shazia’s case, her rape and murder for refusing to convert, have sparked a new wave of fear but also anger and protests among the country's Catholic minority.

Her relatives say that she had told her sister-in-law about Mani Gujjar’s harassment and attempts to get her to convert and marry him.

So far police have arrested only one of the four suspects, Mani Gujjar himself; his brother and two cousins, who allegedly participated in the crime, are still at large.

Joseph Jansen, president of Voice of Justice, said he was concerned about the incident, and urged the authorities to take strong action against the perpetrators.

For Jansen, whose NGO provides legal counsel through Pakistan’s first digital legal portal, the persecution of religious minorities needs to be curbed as soon as possible.

By the same token, the authorities must adopt stricter measures to ensure the safety and security of society’s marginalised groups.

In his view, it is very disturbing but alarmingly common that Christian girls and women are subjected to pressure, harassment, and violence when they refuse to convert to Islam.

Women's rights activist Nadia Stephen agrees; for her, minority women and girls who face such pressures are very vulnerable. They should not be subjected to abduction, rape, and murder simply because they refuse to abandon their religion.

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Hindu fanatics abduct and rape Christian women


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