National Commission on the Status of Women

Govenrment of Pakistan

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NCSW condemns Death Sentence to Alleged Christian Woman in Nankana Sahib

Jun 19, 2009

The National Commission on the Status of Women is shocked that a court in Nankana Sahib has sentenced a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, to death on the charge of having committed “blasphemy.” Asia Bibi, who is the mother of five children, is the latest victim of the pernicious Blasphemy Laws that in their present form were promulgated arbitrarily by a military dictator more than twenty years ago. Since then the Laws, which have little to do with religion, have proved to be a powerful weapon in the hands of unscrupulous people and religious extremists for persecuting innocent citizens and settling scores. Persons charged under these laws, whether innocent or guilty, are rendered extremely vulnerable, and at least ten people have been killed, in some cases even when ostensibly under the safe custody of the State.

National Commission on the Status of Women strongly condemns the death sentence passed by an additional session court in Nankana Sahib, for the alleged commitment of blasphemy by Asia Masih. The death sentence was passed following the judicial process on a FIR, registered on June 19, 2009, under sections 295-B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code. Both sections state punishment by life imprisonment or capital punishment. Asia has also been decreed a hundred thousand rupees as fine. Though an illiterate, she has been accused of denying the institution of prophet-hood, citing copious examples from the key texts of Islam.

The matter has been investigated thoroughly by the National Commission on the Status of Women and has come across some startling facts, clearly highlighting gross irregularities in the judicial process, clearly highlighting the need for reform in the legal injunctions.  The clear dichotomy in the case is the “denial of prophet-hood”. How could you expect a Christian to conform to the Islamic creed? How could you expect an absolutely illiterate person to cite Islamic textual and exegetical references, one upon another to deny the institution of prophet-hood?

The false allegation, which is rooted in a personal vendetta by a mighty landlord, who exploited a number of discriminating elements in the village, Chak 3 of Nankana Sahib, to settle his personal score against the poor victim, should be immediately reversed. Furthermore, there is a dire need to repeal the section 295 B and C, which are ubiquitously being used by the discriminating elements of the society to vent their personal grudge in the matters of feuds against the minorities. These two sections have been constantly giving the image of our society as non-tolerant. In order to transform this society into an open, tolerant, multi-cultural and pluralist one, we need to immediately take sincere actions in this regard.   

The NCSW demands that Asia Bibi, who has already spent a year in solitary confinement, should be immediately released and provided protection; and the Blasphemy Laws, which are violative of all norms of justice and have only served to strengthen extremism in society, should be repealed.

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