One night I woke up feeling suffocated, unable to breathe anymore. I had to get out of the house in the open, thinking it will help me breathe because my lungs felt like they had stopped working. Later, my condition was diagnosed as the fear of the uncertain. I still, sometimes, feel that anxiety – even after 11 years of my father’s death.

Now imagine a whole family going through the same condition on most nights, if not all of them, for the past seven years. While they go through that, imagine that family’s wife and mother living in the constant fear of choking in the tight grip of a rope, hanging from a strong bar, blindfolded and handcuffed, completely helpless… until her neck breaks and she dies. All of this, while the Fajar Azan sounds aloud in the background.

She must also fear, every day, that she will never get to see her kids again, smile with them, play and eat with them, touch them, hug and kiss them. She is probably constantly praying to God – possibly all of them that exist at this point – all the times she is not waking up in the middle of the night, breaking in a sweat from a horrible dream or two.

She is probably losing sleep and appetite, maybe suffering from constant anxiety and depression, or even loss of will to live while she awaits others to decide whether she should live, die or to stay in constant fear not knowing what will happen. She also fears that a huge group of Muslims is waiting to hurt her family and kids and possibly to repeat the same or worse that happened to her in the fields.

This experience is called death row syndrome, or, in simple words, “being tortured while waiting to die” while you are physically healthy and not dying of any terminal illness or an accident. It is a psychological condition caused by being in the position of Asia Bibi.

It’s a recurring psychological phenomenon in many countries, including the United States, and the only debate is whether it violates human rights of the inmates. Inmates, as in convict felons, who may have committed major crimes e.g. murder, or terrorism. Forget the USA, let’s talk about the people who have been convicted of crimes carrying punishment of death in Pakistan, and were recently taken to the gallows.

Pakistan has hanged more than a few people convicted of terrorism, or like crimes, in the past year or so. What did Asia Bibi do to be in the same row? Let’s see. She drank water from the same cup as the other women who were Muslims and allegedly, ALLEGEDLY “blasphemed,” which is a different topic for discussion all together. Soon after, a mob consisted of ALL MEN, beat Asia Bibi, a WOMAN, in the fields and tore her clothes off, according to her daughter. Like that wasn’t traumatizing enough, she has also been living in the horrific mental and physical condition discussed above, for the past seven years.

Death row syndrome is not a familiar phenomenon in Pakistan. Heck, most people don't even think about Asia as a human, let alone be sensitive to what she and her family is going through.

In the United States, a legal dispute ensued after a serial killer called Michael Bruce Ross, agreed to be executed. The debate centered on the serial killer’s right to legally agree to be executed, as the death row phenomenon might have contributed to his decision. This was written in Avi Salzman’s paper “Killer’s fate may rest on a new legal concept”, published in 2005. Avi also said in the same paper that the results of being confined to the death row for an extended period of time, including the effects of knowing one will die and the living conditions, can fuel delusions and suicidal tendencies in an individual, and can also cause insanity.

Now imagine what Asia would be going through when she hasn’t even hurt a single soul, let alone raping or murdering someone. And she has been put in the same row as the terrorists who have potentially killed many people, both old and young, in Pakistan.

Considering the fact that Asia Bibi cooked her own food in her cell and cleans it herself to have minimum to zero contact with the jail staff, tells you how much she fears for her life. Enough to believe that she will be killed given the slightest of chance to any lunatic looking to score brownie points for Jannah.

Yesterday was another one of the many horrible days for her, and this time it was in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. While Asia Bibi was anxious and waiting to discover her fate, one of the three judges on the panel recused himself, saying that he was on the bench that heard the case of Salman Taseer. So Asia Bibi had to go back to that cell and wait again for the new date. Reports also said that heavy security was deployed outside the court, fearing religious goons might try to hurt Asia Bibi and/or one or more of the judges presiding over the case.

Maybe that’s why his honor recused himself? Well, whatever the real reason may be, his recusing himself at the last minute wasn’t really exactly a sigh of relief for Asia Bibi.

Another panel will be announced, another unit of armed security will be deployed at the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and Asia Bibi will make another trip to the court or wait in her cell anxiously to listen to the decision taken about her future.

I fail to understand how a religion and religious ego inflated so much, yet remained so weak, that it constantly needs human blood to survive and thrive; to put a tiny little human through what Asia is going through. A cruel and unusual punishment is too mild a description for a situation like this.

How is the testimony of two sisters who have a close relation with the preacher’s wife, more probative to be true than Asia Bibi’s negation of those allegations. I call it a hate crime and a frivolous abuse of power.

What do you all think God will say if we ask Him today if being hanged till death should be the punishment for Asia bibi?

My answer: #FreeAsiaBibi

To quote Jessica Versi’s words in “The summer I wasn’t me”: “Put to death? I thought God was supposed to be all about forgiveness, not the death penalty.” 

What is your answer?