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Asia Bibi pleads with Pakistani government to help kidnapped Christian girls
Monday, September 14, 2020, 19:50 (IST)
The Pakistani Government is being urged to help Christian girls abducted, raped and forced to marry their captors.
Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent nearly a decade on death row for blasphemy, is calling on the country's Prime Minister Imran Khan to take action following the high profile kidnappings of Huma Younus and Maira Shahbaz, both 14.
"I know that these girls are being persecuted and I appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, please help our young girls, because none of them should have to suffer like this," Bibi told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Maira was abducted at gunpoint in Madina, Punjab, in April, in broad daylight and during the coronavirus lockdown. She has managed to escape her captor but fears for her life and has now gone into hiding.
Huma was 14 when she was abducted from her home in Karachi last October. She remains with her abductor.
Ms Bibi added: "At the moment of the founding of Pakistan and its separation from India, our founder Ali Jinnah, in his opening proclamation, guaranteed freedom of religion and thought to all citizens.
"But today there are some groups who are using the existing laws, and so I appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan – especially for the victims of the blasphemy laws and the girls who have been forcibly converted – to safeguard and protect the minorities, who are also Pakistani citizens."
Bibi was the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy. After an appeals process that lasted years, the Pakistan Supreme Court finally acquitted her of all charges and overturned her death sentence in October 2018.
She now lives in Canada, where she and her family were granted asylum.
Following her release, Bibi has become an outspoken advocate for Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan.
"As a victim myself, I am speaking from my own experience. I suffered terribly and lived through so many difficulties," she told ACN.
"Pakistan is not just about minorities or majorities – Pakistan is for all Pakistani citizens, so therefore the religious minorities should also have the same rights of citizenship, and the law in Pakistan says that everyone should be able to live in freedom – and so this freedom must be guaranteed and respected."