ucanews.com reporter, Punjab
Updated: January 11, 2018 10:24 AM GMT
Punjab's chief minister meets the slain girl's father. (Photo supplied)
The murder and rape of an eight-year-old girl has sparked a national outcry in Pakistan after a picture of her lifeless body lying in a heap of garbage was shared on social media platforms on Wednesday.
Zainab Ansari, a resident of Kasur district in Pakistan’s Punjab province, went missing Jan. 7 when she stepped out of her house to take Quran lessons from a neighbor.
The girl’s parents were in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage.
On his return, the girl’s father, Muhammad Amin Ansari, told media that there had been absolutely no help from the police.
“Our entire family and relatives were out in the streets day and night in cold weather. We also recovered CCTV footage on our own, but there was no action from the police,” Amin said.
In the CCTV footage aired by news channels and widely available on social media, Zainab can be seen holding the hand of her abductor.
It was the 12th incident of child molestation in Kasur in a year, according to Zulfiqar Ahmed, a senior police officer.
“We have questioned more than 5,000 people and collected DNA samples from around 65 suspects in a bid to apprehend the predators,” Ahmed said, referring to eight rape-murder cases involving minors. Five cases of molestation were linked to one man.
Angry family members and residents took to the streets to protest the police failure to stem the spate of child abductions.
When they tried to storm the office of the district police office, riot police opened fire to break up the protest, resulting in the death of two people.
Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed pledged his all-out support for the civil administration to bring Zainab's killer to justice.
Pakistan’s top judge also took notice of the incident and directed police to submit a detailed report within 24 hours.
In 2015, a major sexual abuse scandal hit Kasur when hundreds of video clips were discovered showing children performing forced sex acts. Around 280 to 300 children were victims of sexual abuse.
Eleven cases of child sexual abuse are reported every day in Pakistan, according to data from Sahil, a non-government organization that works for child protection.
#JusticeForZainab became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter as cricket stars, showbiz figures, the army chief, political leaders and human rights activists expressed their outrage.
“I am heartbroken, gutted and disgusted … what sort of society we r living in, heart goes out to the parents ... #JusticeForZainab,” cricket star Mohammad Amir tweeted.
“The condemnable & horrific rape & murder of little Zainab exposes once again how vulnerable our children are in our society. This is not the first time such horrific acts have happened. We have to act swiftly to punish the guilty & ensure that our children are better protected,” opposition leader and former cricket star Imran Khan tweeted.
“Heartbroken to hear about Zainab, a child abused and brutally killed in Kasur, Pakistan. This has to stop. Gov and the concerned authorities must take action. #JusticeForZainab,” Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate, tweeted.