Pakistan, March 31, 2012: Hanifan Bibi was segregated at home by her husband who converted to Islam following an extramarital affair with a Muslim woman. He wanted to take the house bought with money earned by his wife. The intervention of NCJP activists has helped justice prevail. Now the court will assess civil damages.
She fought a tough battle against her husband, who wanted to drive her from the house she built over time thanks to the hard earned money of her own work, while the man – converted to Islam in November 2011 – spent his time on women and drinking. Hanifan Bibi’s tenacity and the support of NCJP activists have allowed the woman to get justice in court so she can remain in her home with her children, pending the decision of the civil court in Faisalabad, which is to assess the instance of separation and alimony.
This is the story of suffering, abuse and oppression that emerges from the story of Hanifan Bibi (pictured), a 37 year old Christian, mother of two children, born and raised in a poor family of Gurala Dajkot, a district of Faisalabad (Punjab). For years her husband was abused her, leaving her alone at home with their children to waste his wife’s hard earned money on drinking, women and partying. And when he returned, for short periods, the situation certainly did not not improve, because he beat her brutally.
However, the reality came crashing down four months ago when her husband Sarwar Masih decided to convert to Islam, taking the name of Muhammad Sarwar, following an extramarital affair that had been going on for some time with a Muslim woman, Nasreen Bibi. “Since I have not decided to change faith like him – Hanifan tells AsiaNews – he segregated me in the house” and by March 10 she found herself a prisoner in her own home.
Muhammad Sarwar, after locking up his wife, denounced her illegal possession of the house. With the collaboration of a group of Muslim families he filed a lawsuit in court and threatened the woman if she resisted.
Speaking to AsiaNews, local Christians and Muslims confirm that the man is a “despicable person who does not deserves trust,” because he “engaged in dishonest behavior” and never wanted to work and help support the family. Instead he treated Hanifan like a maid, to “bring home money to feed the families” and ensure a decent life to their children.
Having learned of the issue, the activists of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church in Faisalabad intervened in defense of women. They obtained the dismissal of Harifan’s trial, while judges have opened a civil case against the man for the separation and compensation. “I continue to receive threats from my ex-husband and his fellow Muslims,” Hanifan Bibi, tells AsiaNews, but she remains steadfast in her faith and intention to see her rights recognized.
Humanitarian crisis worsening on the Lebanese-Syrian border
Syria-Lebanon, March 29, 2012: Caritas Lebanon chief says actual refugee numbers higher than official figures. Caritas and other international organisations could run out of supplies. Cor Unum announces fundraiser during Holy Thursday Mass in Rome’s St John Lateran Cathedral.
“The situation is getting worse by the day. The number of refugees is rising constantly. At present, there are more than 20,000 of them; some sources say 30,000 people have crossed the border into Lebanon,” said Caritas Lebanon chief Fr Simon Faddoul.
Speaking to AsiaNews, he explained that most refugees refuse to give their names fearing retaliation back home. It is thus difficult to have accurate numbers. The figure of 9,000 used by the United Nations and the international community to determine the amount of aid is just an estimate and does not correspond to the reality of the situation.
“Refugees have come especially from Homs and surrounding villages, where the worst cases are found: divided families, orphans, old people, sick or those wounded during the bombing,” Fr Faddoul explained. “However, some people have fled other districts like Jableh, in northern Syria, hundreds of kilometers from the Lebanese border.”
“Those who still have money try to cross the border with their cars, using it to pay off security forces and rent a place in Lebanon. Our motorways have been filled with cars with Syrian license plate, especially from Damascus and Alep, for the past few days.”
For the priest, an immediate ceasefire is needed to allow humanitarian aid into Syria to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.
Through Caritas, the Lebanese Catholic Church has collected food, blankets and clothes in parishes at home and abroad for about 2,000 families.
“In recent months, international organisations have joined the effort and set up sites for refugees,” Fr Faddoul said. “However, it is not enough. We are going to launch a new appeal a few days from now asking for more humanitarian aid. It will be read in all the churches of the world.”
Yesterday, the papal charity Cor Unum announced that funds raised during Holy Thursday Mass in St John Lateran in Rome would be devolved to Syrian refugees.
“This is a great gesture on Benedict XVI’s part,” Fr Faddoul said. “It shows that the Church is close to the people of Syria. The amount of money is not important. The initiative is especially important as spiritual support for Catholic volunteers who are moved to donate everything to all these people.” (S.C.)
Some of the capital’s southern suburbs were hit in six air raids overnight, damaging civilian buildings. Mgr Martinelli slams NATO’s indifference to a peaceful solution to the conflict. “In order to destroy Gaddafi, NATO is killing dozens of innocent people.”
Tripoli (AsiaNews) – NATO continues its bombing raids against Tripoli. Last night six planes hit some of the city’s southern suburbs, causing damage to civilian buildings. “Bombs are becoming our Calvary. In order to destroy Gaddafi, NATO is killing dozens of innocent people.”
Yesterday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced the extension of NATO’s mission to Libya by another 90 days after Gaddafi refused to give up power. The NATO chief also suggested that Special Forces might intervene if rebels find themselves in difficulty.
“NATO remains loyal to its bombs,” Mgr Martinelli said. “Why aren’t other venues tried? It appears no one wants a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
The prelate noted that papal appeals for a truce have been ignored so far. This has left the Libyan people at the mercy of a war that is generating hatreds and divisions.
“The future is uncertain,” the bishop said. “The only strength that is left is faith to understand the mystery of this suffering.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations released a report yesterday that accuses Libyan government forces of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The UN mission also found that rebels committed acts that constitute “war crimes”. (S.C.)