Pakistan

Women’s Action Forum condemns in the strongest terms the brutal murder of the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, whose principled stand for justice was deliberately and maliciously distorted by extremist elements in the country in the pursuit of their own political ends. Incitement to violence in the name of religion has become widely prevalent in the country and the state has failed in its duty to curb this mischief. The murder of Salman Taseer is part of a strategy adopted since the time of Zia ul Haq to misuse religion in order to undermine democratic dialogue and to establish religious autocracy. This is unacceptable in a Muslim majority country no particular group should be allowed monopoly over religious views. 

The names in this story have been changed to protect the women's identities out of concern for their safety. Five years ago, Fatima was 23 and studying law in Lahore, Pakistan. She wore blue jeans and a loose shirt and sported short boyish hair. That was the first sign she wasn't a typical Pakistani woman. She leaned in to share a secret she had revealed to only a few other people before: "I'm lesbian," she said hesitantly.

Bibi, the Christian woman who triggered a blasphemy furore in Pakistan and in whose defence Punjab governor Salman Taseer lost his life, is facing a threat of a suicide attack inside a jail, where she is currently lodged. The "Moaviya group", a militant organisation plans to mount a suicide attack on Sheikhupura district jail, where 45-year-old Asia is being held, The Express Tribunequoted its sources as saying. An intelligence report issued last week has corroborated threat to her life.

Control and Sexuality by Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Vanja Hamzić examines zina laws in some Muslim contexts and communities in order to explore connections between the criminalisation of sexuality, gender-based violence and women’s rights activism. The Violence is Not Our Culture Campaign and the Women Living Under Muslim Laws network present this comparative study and feminist analysis of zina laws as a contribution to the broader objective of ending violence in the name of ‘culture’. Attached is the whole book, available for download for free. Please do consider making a donation to WLUML.

Amid announcements by the religious forces in the country to resist any move to change the blasphemy laws, former information minister and Pakistan People’s Party MNA Sherry Rehman has submitted a bill to the National Assembly Secretariat seeking an end to the death penalty under the existing blasphemy laws.

Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association President Asma Jahangir has denounced the stay granted by the Lahore High Court against any action leading to a presidential pardon for Christian woman Aasia Bibi, who was sentenced to death by a district judge on charges on blasphemy. Jahangir expressed surprise that a stay had been granted on an action that was yet to take place, and disapproved of the idea of suspending the constitutional prerogative of the Executive, the Dawn reported. Update to Pakistan: WLUML statement: Ensure the safety of Asia Bibi and her family and repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP) in collaboration with Women Workers Help Line, Kashf Foundation and Shirkat Gah organised a walk in solidarity with the women rights activists outside Lahore Press Club on Monday. 

The International Solidarity Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) is deeply shocked that a court in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, has sentenced a 45-year-old Christian woman, Asia Bibi, to death on the charge of having committed “blasphemy”. Although illiterate, she has been accused of denying the institution of prophet-hood by citing copious examples from the key texts of Islam. We join local human rights organizations, international women’s groups and religious minorities in calling for Pakistan to urgently repeal its Blasphemy Laws. We also appeal to the authorities to guarantee the safety of Asia Bibi and her family from the rage of local extremists, as well as investigate the violent persecution of the Christian community in the Punjab.

The International Solidarity Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) is deeply shocked that a court in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, has sentenced a 45-year-old Christian woman, Asia Bibi, to death on the charge of having committed “blasphemy”. Although illiterate, she has been accused of denying the institution of prophet-hood by citing copious examples from the key texts of Islam. We join local human rights organizations, international women’s groups and religious minorities in calling for Pakistan to urgently repeal its Blasphemy Laws. We also appeal to the authorities to guarantee the safety of Asia Bibi and her family from the rage of local extremists, as well as investigate the violent persecution of the Christian community in the Punjab.

Campaigners in Pakistan say the case of Asia Bibi – the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy – highlights the need for urgent reform of laws that are routinely used to persecute minorities and settle grudges. The 45-year-old Christian, who has at least two children, was sentenced to death by a court in Sheikhupura, near Lahore, after prosecutors accused her of insulting the Prophet Mohamed and promoting her own faith. Her family have rejected the allegations and launched an appeal. "We have never ever insulted the Prophet or Islamic scripture, and we will contest the charges," said her husband Ashiq Masih.

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