Esha's legal expenses

£5,166 of £10k goal

Raised by 108 people in 23 months
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"Esha" a 24 year old woman has been cut off from the world in her prime and is languishing in a Pakistani prison for the last three years on false charges of blasphemy brought against her by her best friend after they had an argument. She stands accused of having torn pages from the Qur'an and having slept on them. Although there have been several hearings, her trial  is still pending  for a complex variety of reasons - one of them being that there have been five different judges, each fearing for his life.

She has no family to take an interest in her except for a dedicated young man, "Mo", whom she met on a visit to court and who, on hearing her story and seeing her isolation, has been trying to support her. Blasphemy is a serious offence in a deeply religious country like Pakistan and punishable by death. Blasphemy laws have been used to persecute minorities like the Christians or to settle personal scores. Several prominent people have been killed  for supporting those accused of blasphemy. Only recently a Christian couple were burnt alive for allegedly desecrating the Qur'an. See links below.

"Mo" has gone into hiding after he  received death threats. He is unable to work now and therefore, unable to raise the kind of fees that are charged by lawyers. For this kind of case, the fees are extremely high because of the danger posed to anyone associated with it. This is why we cannot use their real names.

She is being sexually harassed by the superintendent of the prison. As she has rejected his advances, he has withdrawn all basic privileges such as medicines, visitors, even a  mattress to sleep on. She is locked up 24/7 in a cell that is not heated in the winter and not cooled in the summer when temperatures can reach a baking 45c! She has attempted suicide twice and her poor mental health is a cause of real worry. She has stomach ulcers, skin allergies and kidney problems as well.

"Esha" and "Mo" are completely trapped.  'Esha' says 'I have lost all faith in society. I have been cut off from life, from the world, from education. I have lost the will to live.' 

Although it is vital to Esha's mental health that she leaves  prison, if her bail hearing is successful, neither of them have any money even for rent or food. Mo's own family feel he's wasting his life and are threatening to cut him off.  He says, 'I was 27 when I met Esha. I have spent all my life savings on her. My life is in danger from extremists and I have lost family, friends and peace of mind. Why am I doing this?'

This money will go towards Esha's legal fees and associated expenses for a lawyer who is highly recommended. "Mo" is desperate to get the legal case on the road before "Esha's" next attempt on her life. 

Please donate as generously as you can.  

Press coverage on Esha and Mo:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/05/what-can-t-you-say-stephen-fry-slavoj-i-ek-elif-shafak-and-more-say-unsayable 

https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/apostasy-and-asylum-escaping-clutches-of-religion 

Press coverage on blasphemy in Pakistan:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/christian-couple-accused-of-blasphemy-in-pakistan-were-burne#.hl0W8YzxN

http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/pakistani-lawyer-rashid-rehman-murdered-after-taking-on-blasphemy-case-9341021.html


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Update 5
Posted by Rahila Gupta
13 months ago
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Delighted to say that Esha has been released on bail. Esha and Mo have got married and are in hiding at the moment. They are trying to leave Pakistan so as to apply for asylum in another country. Before bringing our fundraising drive to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their generosity which has helped to save the life of this young woman.
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Update 4
Posted by Rahila Gupta
18 months ago
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We have had a number of setbacks. Esha was sent back to prison within a week as the hospital said that they could not afford the security arrangements required for patients charged with blasphemy. The judges delayed their decision in the bail application at the High Court several times in the hope that the blasphemy trial in the lower courts would conclude shortly. No matter how poor the quality of the evidence against the defendant, lower courts normally convict in blasphemy cases and so bail would become irrelevant. However, as the trial has still not concluded, the High Court judge finally gave a decision and refused bail. Their lawyer, Asma Jahangir, has lodged a bail application to the Supreme Court. We are very much hoping that this will be heard before the trial is concluded and that the decision is positive so that Esha is released.
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Update 3
Posted by Rahila Gupta
19 months ago
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Esha was finally moved to a hospital yesterday as a result of a court order which recommended that she needed access to psychotherapy services which were not available in prison. With some difficulty (because Mo and Esha are not married and visitors have to be 'legit'), Mo was able to meet Esha in what turned out to be a very emotional meeting as they had not met for 14 months. On 10 August, the judge will give the long awaited decision on her bail application. We seem to be making some progress at last. Thank you all for your support.
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Update 2
Posted by Rahila Gupta
20 months ago
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The Judge has delayed his decision on Esha's bail application pending a report from the Sessions Court judge on the progress of her blasphemy trial. According to Esha's lawyer this is a hopeful development as the judge did not reject the bail application at the hearing yesterday as he could have done. We should have a decision within the next couple of weeks.
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Read a Previous Update
Rahila Gupta
23 months ago
3
3

Ammar, Just to add to what Maryam has said. Esha is from Lahore, her bail application is being handled by Asma Jehangir, she was arrested in March 2012. I have seen all the correspondence between Mo and her legal reps as well as with other human rights organisations. The lawyer representing her in her trial doesn't advise publicity so I cannot release his name. I am a longstanding member of Southall Black Sisters and we support black women based in the UK and occasionally women on the sub-continent. Of course, if you think I am lying the only way I can prove it is by sending you copies of the FIR etc but that would give away her real identity. As I don't know who you are, I cannot take that risk. But when you make unsubstantiated allegations that this is a scam, you are hurting the prospects of a desperate young woman locked away in prison.

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Maryam Namazie
23 months ago
1
1

Hello Ammar, Rahila Gupta is a veteran women's rights campaigner and journalist. She has written about the girl's case here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/apostasy-and-asylum-escaping-clutches-of-religion. Also please note that Asma Jahangir and other Pakistani human rights groups are involved. Rahila has given the girl a pseudonym based on advice from people there that her real name and details will further endanger "Esha" but that something had to be made public in order to raise money for her legal fees. Of course you are free not to support the campaign but I would suggest that it is best not to label a lifeline to someone a need a "scam" so readily. I and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain can vouch for Rahila and the work she does. We also have a responsibility to help "Esha".

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Rahila Gupta
21 months ago

Hi Nikki Magennis, sorry for the delay in getting back to you but I was waiting for the company to respond. I found their answer on the help page: GoFundMe campaigns created in the US only accept credit card and debit card payments. Due to a high-number of complaints, PayPal is no longer supported in the US.

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Nikki Magennis
21 months ago

Hi there, is it possible to donate by paypal? Many thanks.

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Ammar Zafarullah
23 months ago

Could you please share the detail of this case? as in any of the specifics? which city is Esha from? when was she arrested? does she have legal representation? As an activist I follow the cases of blasphemy in Pakistan and without any specific details this seems like a scam to me

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£5,166 of £10k goal

Raised by 108 people in 23 months
No Longer Accepting Donations
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Created April 11, 2015
£10
Anonymous
13 months ago
HF
£10
hendra f
13 months ago
OD
£15
Owen Dixon
15 months ago
MG
£20
mel gibs
16 months ago
£25
Anonymous
17 months ago
JS
£50
Joaquin Seoane
17 months ago
AE
£10
Alan Evison
18 months ago
£10
Anonymous
18 months ago
IK
£100
Ian K
19 months ago
JM
£20
Jonny Morrall
19 months ago
Rahila Gupta
23 months ago
3
3

Ammar, Just to add to what Maryam has said. Esha is from Lahore, her bail application is being handled by Asma Jehangir, she was arrested in March 2012. I have seen all the correspondence between Mo and her legal reps as well as with other human rights organisations. The lawyer representing her in her trial doesn't advise publicity so I cannot release his name. I am a longstanding member of Southall Black Sisters and we support black women based in the UK and occasionally women on the sub-continent. Of course, if you think I am lying the only way I can prove it is by sending you copies of the FIR etc but that would give away her real identity. As I don't know who you are, I cannot take that risk. But when you make unsubstantiated allegations that this is a scam, you are hurting the prospects of a desperate young woman locked away in prison.

+ Read More
Maryam Namazie
23 months ago
1
1

Hello Ammar, Rahila Gupta is a veteran women's rights campaigner and journalist. She has written about the girl's case here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/rahila-gupta/apostasy-and-asylum-escaping-clutches-of-religion. Also please note that Asma Jahangir and other Pakistani human rights groups are involved. Rahila has given the girl a pseudonym based on advice from people there that her real name and details will further endanger "Esha" but that something had to be made public in order to raise money for her legal fees. Of course you are free not to support the campaign but I would suggest that it is best not to label a lifeline to someone a need a "scam" so readily. I and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain can vouch for Rahila and the work she does. We also have a responsibility to help "Esha".

+ Read More
Rahila Gupta
21 months ago

Hi Nikki Magennis, sorry for the delay in getting back to you but I was waiting for the company to respond. I found their answer on the help page: GoFundMe campaigns created in the US only accept credit card and debit card payments. Due to a high-number of complaints, PayPal is no longer supported in the US.

+ Read More
Nikki Magennis
21 months ago

Hi there, is it possible to donate by paypal? Many thanks.

+ Read More
Ammar Zafarullah
23 months ago

Could you please share the detail of this case? as in any of the specifics? which city is Esha from? when was she arrested? does she have legal representation? As an activist I follow the cases of blasphemy in Pakistan and without any specific details this seems like a scam to me

+ Read More
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