top of page

A Pakistani Christian woman Asma Yaqoob, 25, succumbed to her injuries after acid attack and passed

A Pakistani Christian woman Asma Yaqoob, 25, succumbed to her injuries after acid attack and passed away in Lahore. She was forced to change her religion and marry a Muslim man Rizwan Gujjar, who attacked her after the refusal. She was the only bread winner of ten siblings in the family. Her body will be transported to her hometown Sialkot by ambulance tomorrow.

Asthma Yaqood was 25 and worked as a beautician. She rejected Rizwan Gujjar's marriage proposal, who also wanted her to convert to Islam. In recent months, there have been five acid attacks against members of minorities.

Sialkot (AsiaNews) – A 25-year-old Christian woman, Asma Yaqoob, died in Lahore after she was attacked and disfigured with acid.

Her only fault was to have spurned a 30-year-old Muslim man named Rizwan Gujjar. From Sialkot, the young woman succumbed yesterday to her injuries, after two weeks of agony.

"Minority women face double discrimination, or if you like, various layers of prejudice,” said Aila Gill, coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, speaking to AsiaNews.

“The government should take immediate notice of all these growing incidents of intolerance against minorities. Forced conversion of religious minorities should be criminalised and the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Act should be enforced to prevent these crimes against women.”

Asma had been employed as a beautician for two years and was proud of her job. Her brother Nabeel, 23, works as a banner printer at Panaflex where he became a close friend of Rizwan, a Muslim.

In the past few months Rizwan became a regular visitor at the Yacoob house, and befriended Asma, and eventually fell in love with her.

About three months ago he asked her to marry him and convert to Islam, but she refused both requests.

In order to avoid problems for her brother, she did not tell her family. But after the refusal, the young Muslim becomes aggressive and violent towards her. She tried to avoid him and ignore him whenever he visited the family.

On 10 April, Rizwan's anger and frustration boiled over. He went to Pak Pura town where Asma had gone to work on the hair of a number of women who were preparing for a wedding.

Claiming to be her brother, Rizwan got Asma to come out to of the house where he attacked her, dousing her with acid and setting her on fire, before running away.

Asma’s screams attracted the relatives of the future bride, who rushed her to the nearest hospital. She was later transferred to the burn unit of the Mayo Hospital in Lahore. But the doctors could not save the young woman, who had burns over 90 per cent body.

In a press statement released a few hours after her death, the Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation, a Catholic group, condemned the "horrific act of brutality" and demanded justice for Yaqoob.

"Gujjar was forcing her to convert to Islam … we have appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of this appalling crime and to ensure that the perpetrator is brought to justice," it stated.

The Pakistan Christian Action Committee (PCAC) alerted Christian females in a video message.

"We salute Asma for her strong faith. I request you to report sexual or psychological harassment to your respective pastors, priests and political leaders or a sincere friend. We shall take notice and help you in getting justice. However, Christians must protest peacefully," said Rev. Amjad Niamat, the PCAC convenor.

"Poor families are usually pressurized to take back the complaint, accept diya (blood money) and reconcile with the culprits. We demand that this case be tried in special courts instead of trial courts."

Christian housemaids are often subjected to torture and harassment in Pakistan. In 2010, Kiran George was raped and burned by the son of her Muslim employer in Sheikhupura. She also died in Mayo Hospital.

Also in 2010, Catholic maid Shazia Masih, 12, was found dead with torture marks on her body at the house of Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, former president of the Lahore Bar Association. The Muslim advocate and his family were acquitted by a court in November 2010.

According to a report by the Acid Survivors Foundation, 153 acid attacks were reported in 2014 but the number of victims fell by 52 percent in 2016. Most victims of acid violence were females. About 85 percent of the acid attacks occurred in Punjab. Many children end up victims of acid attacks by being close to the victim.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded 51 acid attacks with 67 female victims in 2016.


bottom of page