Father Morris Jalal (center) with Catholic families praying for Zainab on Jan. 14 at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Lahore. (Photo by Father Morris Jalal)
The Catholic Church in Pakistan has strongly criticized police and officials for failing to make any arrests over the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab Ansari.
Zainab’s body was found last week in a rubbish dump four days after she went missing.
It was the 12th case in the past year of young girls being raped and then killed in Kasur district of Punjab province.
The Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) condemned the official response.
“Pakistan, once again, has failed to protect its children,” the NCJP stated.
The church body said local police officers, political leaders and other government officials should be sacked for not cooperating with the family of the victim.
“The whole nation weeps for this sin,” senior officials of the NCJP said in a joint statement.
Thousands of cases of child molestation have been reported in Kasur district in recent years, mostly in rural areas.
Pakistan is ranked as having the 11th highest rate of child sexual abuse in the world.
Media reports say an average of 11 cases are registered each day.
Catholic leaders have pressed the government of Pakistan to establish a national judicial commission into child sexual abuse and child pornography.
Special prayers were offered in Catholic churches for the families of victims.
Other Christian and Islamic leaders called on parents to be aware of the dangers of child sex abuse.