07/16/2019, 17.25
PAKISTAN
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Nurse killed by ex-boyfriend in Faisalabad because she refused to convert to Islam

by Shafique Khokhar

Saima Sardar, 30, was set to marry her Christian fiancé in November. The threats of a former boyfriend led her to ask for greater security at the hospital where she worked. Activist calls for a law “to punish violence against women" and ban forced marriages.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – Saima Sardar, a 30-year-old Christian nurse, was killed by her ex-boyfriend because she refused to marry him and convert to Islam. The murder took place on 10 July in Faisalabad, at the hospital where she worked.

The assassin, Muhammad Waseem, was able to get inside the facility during her shift and shot her with a gun. Then he took his own life.

"Converting to another religion or marrying someone is a personal choice,” said Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) president Naveed Walter speaking to AsiaNews. “Unfortunately, in Pakistani society Muslim men who like minority girls think that the latter should obey them and that their offer cannot be refused.”

Saima worked at the Social Security Hospital and a few years ago started a relationship with her murderer. Eventually they broke up, partly because of her family’s opposition. Later she became engaged to a young Christian and the two were set to marry in November.

According to the family, when Muhammad heard about Saima’s pending marriage, he began to harass her. He wanted her to deny her faith and convert to Islam. Then they would marry according to the Islamic tradition.

Faced with Saima's refusal, the ex-boyfriend lost his mind. For months he threatened her and even warned her: "if you do not convert and marry me, you will die".

Out of fear, she asked hospital guards not to allow him inside the building. Muhammad nevertheless was able to get in and shot her. Shortly afterwards, when two of the victim’s colleagues arrived, he shot himself.

Saima's funeral took place on 11 July, whilst the body of her murderer is still in the hospital morgue, unclaimed.

According to Naveed Walter, "a law is immediately needed to treat violence against women as a crime, and punish forced marriages with imprisonment of no less than three years and a fine of 500,000 rupees” (US$ 3,200).

"The question is who will appear before a judge when murderers kill themselves,” he wonders. Nevertheless, “Those who refuse to live next to people with different religions should be viewed as having mental problems.”

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