Pakistan: Christian woman suffers miscarriage after being stripped and beaten

A pregnant Christian woman in Pakistan has suffered a miscarriage after she was stripped naked and beaten following an argument with her Muslim superiors.

According to the British Pakistani Christian Association, which works to create a voice for Pakistani Christians and to improve education and opportunity for minorities in Pakistan, Elishba Bibi, aged 28, was three months pregnant when she was stripped naked and beaten by two Muslim men in Sheikhupura. This is the same the same district that Asia Bibi, the woman sentenced to death for blasphemy for allegedly insulting the prophet Mohammed, comes from.

Muslims as well as Christians have been persecuted under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, where any insult to the Koran or Islam can warrant a sentence of death by hanging. There have been many accusations, riots, attacks and even rape and killing of "infidels".

Christians in Pakistan, who represent the second largest religious minority after Hinduism, often take the menial and subservient jobs. Reports say Elishba Bibi was set upon by two Muslim men after she had an argument with two Muslim women who referred to her as an untouchable. The men were allegedly relatives of the women.

The association claimed: "They beat her with Iron rods and sticks leaving welts across her body, whilst they spat at her in disgust. The assailants were not satisfied with her public humiliation and stole 1,000 rupees (£10) from her, Elishba's entire weeks wages, a gold necklace she was wearing and her mobile phone."

The report claimed observers watched the beating and laughed, throwing stones at her as she walked home afterwards.

"The attack was so brutal that poor Elisha Bibi has now miscarried and has been weeping constantly for the child she has lost," the associated reported.

A protest outside the local police station had no effect and the victim's family say they have received death threat unless they drop charges against the alleged perpetrators.

Wilson Chowdhry, association chairman, said: "This disgraceful attack was compounded by the further humiliation and hatred meted out by other member of the Muslim community, in this town with a history of violence against Christians. Asia Bibi underwent a similar degrading attack only miles away from this poor victim and the situation seems to be getting worse."

Just weeks ago, there was international outrage after a Christian husband and wife in Pakistan were locked inside a brick-making factory, beaten to death and their bodies burnt for allegedly discarding a copy of the Koran that had belonged to a deceased relative. The woman, Shama Bibi, already a mother of three, was four months pregnant at the time.