Life behind the bars is never easy especially for the blasphemy respondent Christian woman Asia Bibi.
A recent report portraying her hell-like life in prison reveals some chilling facts which it hard to imagine her plight. The block in Multan Central Jail where Asia Bibi is kept houses 42 murderers, 30 drugs addicts, 21 robbers, 12 kidnappers along with various other criminals.
Asia Bibi who enjoys the title of Pakistan’s most famous prisoner, is the only woman in Pakistan who is on death row. As she linger’s along, waiting for a hearing date at the Supreme Court of Pakistan for an appeal against her death sentence, life has become no less than tribulation for her.
Asia Bibi is confined in women’s block in Multan Jail which is in fact a single-story building and poor ventilation adds to the quandary of the inmates. Inside are the sets of beds which are placed one on another, two each in a vertical order, in order to save space for more. The horde of inmates at this block has only six unhygienic toilets for use. “They are simply not sufficient for the number of inmates,” a former inmate said.
Most of the inmates in this block are in solitary confinement just like Asia Bibi, although the capacity of this block is for 30-40 inmates but at the moment about 150 prisoners are kept in this block. “Multan’s summers are extremely hot. Combine this with overcrowding, poor sanitation, heating, lighting, and ventilation in the jail, and you realize the hell hole where Asia’s single cell is located,” this former prisoner descried.
Nonetheless, there are severe threats to her life, Asia Bibi is spending days in terrible condition. Asia Bibi being a respondent of blasphemy and a Christians bears the brunt of aggravation of the police officers in charge of the block or for security.
Although, Asia Bibi is kept separate from other prisoners, and despite the fact that she has a separate toilet and can cook for herself, the conditions remain critically unhygienic. Adding to this, Asia Bibi is suffering from severe illness and weakness. So much so that she can hardly walk, according to her family. Asia Bibi as reported earlier, is suffering from internal bleeding as she seldom vomits blood.
For the lack of medical treatment adds to her quandary as medicines of common sicknesses are available in jail, and but are at the disposal of “favorite prisoners” only. Nonetheless, for sicknesses as serious as Asia Bibi’s no medicines are available in the jail. Oftentimes, the inmates die of their sicknesses behind the bars due to negligence of the prison staff as no medical treatment is administrated to them. Moreover, the judicial magistrate and the superintendent seem to be quite unsympathetic with the prisoners who yield to their sickness.
Ever since Asia Bibi was hooked in 2009, she has seen open sky only at the occasions of her court trials or once when she was taken to a hospital. A Trauma counsellor, while remarking about Asi Bibi said, “Someone like Asia Bibi would not have been prepared for the trauma of this long-term separation from her loved ones.
When she comes out and is free from the shackles of this sentence, she will suffer much mental pain, and it will be a long healing process for her. The evil of injustice, unfair punishment, and separation from her family will have eroded her sense of what is normal. She will need to rebuild it tenderly with fragile care and concern from her loved ones.
“If there was only something for her to do, something to keep her busy, something to read or something else that would provide stimulation for her brain and body, but there is no form of vocational training and education in the prison. She is alone with her thoughts and prayers. We do not know if she has a Bible, but it is seldom the case.”