Yesterday, the 24-year-old suspect in the Zainab rape and murder case went before the anti-terrorism court. Islamic religious groups have rejected sex education. Justice must be “on a fast track”.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – A 24-year-old man was arrested in connection with the rape and murder of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl, in Kasur (near Lahore). Reacting to the news, a group of activists, Catholics and students propose sex education courses in schools to prevent child abuse.
Speaking to AsiaNews, they said they appreciate the efforts of the police, who identified the alleged killer through DNA testing, but his “arrest is only the first step towards justice,” said Samson Salamat, president of Rwadari Tehreek (Tolerance movement).
Yesterday, the accused, Imran Ali (pictures 2 and 3), appeared before an anti-terrorism court in Lahore. A few days ago, Punjab police had collected samples of his DNA, along with those of hundreds of other people, and then released him.
He was arrested on Tuesday after it was ascertained that his DNA was the same as the one Zainab’s murderer left on her body.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the suspect also submitted to a polygraph test.
Still, this “is a long way to go to make sure that justice is done,” said Salamat. The “trial must be on a fast track” because the murder sparked “anger and outrage all around”.
“The serial killer’s arrest is the success of the people who spoke out to make sure that Zainab’s murder did not happen in vain.”
The “important thing now for Pakistan is to keep an eye on this case and continue to speak out against human rights violations,” Salamat added.
“The increase in sexual crimes against minors also calls the attention of the legislatures and law enforcement to seriously look into existing law and procedures.”
Shahid Anwar, a student activist, also appreciates "the combined efforts of intelligence services and police authorities.” But “The Pakistani government should implement existing laws that guarantee child protection and fulfill international obligations."
In addition, he proposes including "sex education in school curricula.” For him, “This will surely help limit child abuse.” At the same time, “The police and the authorities should not only give preference to those cases highlighted by media, but ought to take speedy actions in every case of child abuse registered in police stations.”
Ata-ur-Rehman Saman, researcher and coordinator of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, believes that Zainab’s case "exposes the lack of interest, sense of responsibility and political will that allowed the culprit to rape and kill 12 innocent girls.”
The reference here is to the 12 cases recorded in Kasur in 2017, which came to light only after Zainab’s became public, all attributed to a single serial killer.
For Saman, "Awareness regarding such issues should be included in the education curriculum, something that has always been rejected by [Islamic] religious factions."