Pregnant Christian woman beaten by employer in Pakistan
A 28 year-old Christian cleaner, Asma Gulfam, was beaten and forced to work for her employer, even though she had a medical condition due to her pregnancy.
Asma has worked for her employer, Huda Adnan for five years. Asma had advised Adnan that she couldn’t work any longer, being five months pregnant and with a medical condition. Adnan refused her appeal and said she had to continue to work.
Adnan then accused her of stealing 1 million rupees – $3,490 – on the 18th of April. When Asma denied it, Adnan hauled her into a room where police assistant sub-inspector, Ijaz Ahmed, and three other policemen were waiting with Adnan’s husband.
Asma later reported that “As soon as they saw me, the policemen led by Ijaz started hurling abuses and curses at me. They threatened to tear my clothes if I did not admit to the alleged theft, but when I refused, they pulled my hair and started beating me up mercilessly. During the torture, Ijaz also tried to pull my nails out.”
As a result of the continuous blows, she started bleeding from the uterus. Her employers detained her against her will for eight days and repeatedly beat her.
“I cried and screamed for help, but no one came to rescue me. I have worked in that house for so many years, and not once had the couple accused me of any wrongdoing. I worked very hard and honestly because for me this was a good testimony of my Christian faith. I was held hostage in Huda’s house all this time during which I was repeatedly tortured. My assailants rebuked me for being a Christian and said no one could save me from them until I confessed to the false allegation.” she said.
When her husband, rickshaw driver Gulfam Masih, went to the Civil Lines police station to report her missing, officers arrested him.
“They kept him in illegal confinement for a week and released him on April 26, only after my health worsened,” Asma said.
Her husband rushed her to a government hospital, where a medical examination showed that she had been physically abused. Her unborn child’s life was at serious risk due to internal haemorrhaging, but fortunately, the doctors managed to save it.
As soon as she recovered, Asma reported the illegal imprisonment to a Sialkot District police officer on 10 May. He ordered an investigation, but officers disregarded her complaint without even interviewing her.
Asma’s attempt to acquire justice angered her former employers, who had submitted a theft charge against her and her husband on 17 May.
Imran Sahotra, an activist of the local Christian Awakening Movement said “Many poor Christians are victimized through false allegations, including blasphemy, if they choose to discontinue working for their Muslim employers. The pattern is quite similar when you examine such cases.”
The activist appealed to church and community leaders to raise their voices for persecuted Christians. “Our people will continue to suffer from persecution unless we unite as a community and raise a collective voice against this oppression and demand justice”.