Investigation Into Rape And Murder Of Seven-Year-Old Pakistani Girl Leads To Suspicions Of A Serial Rapist-Killer

From National Post:
Across Pakistan, thousands protested, condemning police inaction and blaming the government for failing to protect children.

“Whenever anybody saw her picture on social media or on electronic media everybody started weeping,” said Waqas Abid, a lawyer in Kasur who heads an activist group called the Good Thinkers Organization. “Everybody was self-motivated to come out from his or her house and ask for justice for Zainab.”

The Senate’s Standing Committee on the Interior, which oversees policing, launched an inquiry this week into the sexual assaults in Kasur, as well as into another recent attack in another part of the country — the rape and killing of a four-year-old named Asma, whose body was left in a field near her home in Kyhber Pukhtunkhwa, in northwestern Pakistan.

Kasur is a congested district of around 2.5 million people in eastern Pakistan, near the border with India. The city of Kasur is surrounded by brick kilns and tanneries and has hundreds of small factories making shoes and embroideries, all of which employ children — making them vulnerable to abuse. In 2015, an extensive child pornography ring was uncovered in the city; it had been flourishing for nearly a decade and involved nearly 250 children, some of whom were forced at gunpoint to have sex.

Zainab was snatched in early January as she walked to a Qur’an class. Her parents were away on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, and the girl and her two sisters and brother were watched over by her aunts and uncles who all live in the same house in an impoverished neighbourhood of narrow lanes on the outskirts of the city.

“I told Zainab often to be careful,” her mother, Nusrat Ansari, said. Wrapped in a large shawl obscuring her face, she held Zainab’s photo, describing how she loved to play games with her cousins. Her favourite was hide and seek.

Her father, Mohammed Amin Ansari, denounced police for failing to warn residents about a serial killer in the city. “People don’t talk about sexual abuse,” he said.

It was only after the shock over Zainab that news emerged of other children abducted and raped in Kasur. Amid the uproar, police did testing on the victims and found the same DNA on eight of the children, all but one of whom was killed. Police now say they are hunting for a serial rapist-killer.

On Tuesday, authorities announced the arrest of a suspect in Zainab’s killing. The spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, Malik Ahmed Khan, identified the suspect as Mohammed Imran and said he was arrested near Kasur.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the same suspect is linked to the deaths of the eight other children. After the announcement, Zainab’s father demanded in an interview with a local television that the culprit be hanged.

Among the eight victims was five-year-old Ayesha. Her father, Mohammed Asif, said he pleaded with the police to find her after her abduction last year.

“They had no interest. They were more interested in keeping it quiet,” he told The Associated Press. Her body, showing signs of rape and torture, was found two days after her disappearance.

The sole survivor among the eight was a six-year-old girl found by a homeless man rummaging through a garbage bin outside a vegetable market. She had been kidnapped for 15 hours, during which she was tortured. Cigarettes were put out on her feet and legs, and she suffered a serious head injury. Now at a hospital in the nearby city of Lahore, she can’t sit, hold up her head or speak, and her father Mohammad Ahsan, says all she does is cry.

Ahsan said his daughter’s attack was ignored in the media until Zainab’s killing.

Abid, the lawyer, said there have been at least 20 cases of children abducted, raped and killed over the past year in Kasur district…..

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