03/23/2022, 13.03
PAKISTAN
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Hindu woman, 18, is killed after refusing to marry a Muslim in Sindh

by Shafique Khokhar

Wahid Bux Lashari, along with two accomplices, tried to kidnap the young woman on Monday morning while she was alone in her home. She resisted and he shot her. Hundreds of attacks against young minority women are reported each year. Human rights groups and PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari condemn the attack.

Sukkur (AsiaNews) – Pooja Kumari, an 18-year-old Hindu woman from the Odh community, was killed on Monday after she refused a marriage proposal from a prominent Muslim man.

When she resisted his attempt to seize her, he brutally killed her inside the young woman's home, in the Chhuahra Mandi area, Sukkur, a Pakistani city in the southern province of Sindh.

Kumari belonged to a nomadic group. Her mother works all day at the local market in Kajhor, earning a meagre income to support her family.

On the day of the murder, as usual, she went to work early in the morning, leaving her daughter alone in the house. This allowed her would-be kidnapper and two associates, known locally, to climb the home’s walls and get inside with the intention of abusing and abducting her. However, the victim put up a fight that led to her death from gun shots.

Sindh police have reportedly arrested the killer, identified as Wahid Bux Lashari, and two other individuals.

Human rights associations have slammed the latest act of violence against a young minority woman, calling for the Sindh provincial government to take steps to stop such incidents.

In the recent past, such acts of violence have become commonplace and are one of the country’s unsolved issues, so much so that the leaders of the Pakistani Church have urged the authorities to take action.

Usually, the cases follow a certain pattern: locally prominent more or less wealthy Muslim men are the main culprits, often enjoying the complicity of local police and authorities.

Zahid Farooq, a Christian human rights activist and deputy director of Urban Resource Centre, points out that, had the kidnapping been successful, “yesterday we would have seen a video of the young woman claiming that she chose to convert to Islam and marry her kidnapper.”

Every human being, he adds, must have the right to live "freely" and marry "whoever they want", while kidnapping someone and forcing them to marry "is a crime against humanity".

Kidnapping and forced conversions affect hundreds of non-Muslim girls and women in Pakistan every year.

For Mariyam Kashif Anthony, women’s rights activist in Karachi, "what happened to Kumari happens to hundreds of young women” and shows a worrying pattern of “kidnappings, forced conversions and unwanted marriages”, touching mostly “young women from religious minorities”.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, president of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the country’s third largest party, currently in opposition, strongly condemned the murder, expressing full solidarity with the victim's family.

Son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto-Zardari called for exemplary sentences for the guilty.

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