01/11/2018, 13.44
PAKISTAN
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Pakistani Church condemns the 'brutal' rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl

by Kamran Chaudhry

Zainab lived in Kasur, near Lahore. Her small body found in a landfill. She was raped several times and strangled to death. Protests against police inaction. An awareness campaign to eradicate "the cancer of pedophilia".

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The Church in Pakistan "condemns the rape and murder of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl". This was stated by Msgr. Joseph Arshad, archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and head of the Pakistani Church, commenting on the news that has aroused indignation across the country. The episode has pushed many users of social media to break the wall of silence that surrounds the issue of pedophilia and rape of minors in the country. According to Msgr. Arshad, "the prevalent mindset cannot be beaten by academic education alone. People should be re-educated about human dignity ".

News of the rape has been reported by media throughout the country. The body of Zainab was found yesterday in a landfill in Kasur, near Lahore. On January 4, the child had disappeared from home while on her way to her Islamic religion class. The autopsy investigations reveal that she was raped several times and then strangled to death.

Her murder has provoked violent reactions among the local population, who denounce police negligence in conducting investigations into the murder. Two people died in the clashes between demonstrators and police. Some videos traced by the family show the small girl hand in hand with a man, still unknown. The relatives complain that if those videos had been acquired in time by the investigators, perhaps the child could have been saved.

The latest data on violence in Kasur has only heightened tension. In the last three years, 720 child abuse incidents were recorded, including 129 cases of rape in 2017. The killer's modus operandi is similar in several incidents, which suggests the presence of a serial killer. For now, the police have collected DNA samples from 90 suspects.

Msgr. Arshad claims that "creating job opportunities for young people can help to reduce the trend of child abuse". Many famous people have expressed their indignation on the social media. Among them, Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who tweeted: " Heartbroken to hear about Zainab … This has to stop. Gov and the concerned authorities must take action". Shehbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab, visited the Zainab’s family and promised them there would be a swift investigation.

This afternoon the Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for Tolerance) organized a march for peace. The procession of 30 activists will leave Lahore and will arrive in Kasur [50 km away, ed]. Yesterday, the group demonstrated against the murder in front of the press club. The banners held called for  "Justice for Zainab".

Fr. Morris Jalal, executive director of a Catholic television station run by the archdiocese of Lahore, suggests a campaign to raise awareness of rape and the protection of children. " he cancer Pedophilia is spreading fast, it is not a new phenomenon. Media has only focused on this evil recently. Easy availability of porn on internet has further aided such mindset. Children attending private tuition of Quran in neighborhood are soft targets. Suffocation in society has created psychos. The families should seriously think about protecting their children. These methods should also be made part of school syllabus".

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