Asia-Pacific

#JusticeForZainab: Girl's murder sparks protests across Pakistan

Protesters have taken to the streets across Pakistan following the rape and murder of a young girl south of Lahore.

Protests have broken out across Pakistan after the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in a district south of Lahore, due to public anger at what is seen as the authorities' failure to investigate such cases.

It is the 12th such murder in the town of Kasur in a year, and has raised concern that a serial killer may be on the loose.

Two people were killed on Wednesday when police fired at angry protesters in Kasur, and a local resident said schools, offices, and markets remained shut in the town on Thursday.

Zainab's father, Ameen Ansari, told the BBC: "It's like the world has ended."

Pakistani students light candles during a protest rally to condemn the rape and killing of Zainab Ansari, an 8-year-old girl, last week in Kasur, Thursday, January 11, 2018, in Lahore, Pakistan.
Pakistani students light candles during a protest rally to condemn the rape and killing of Zainab Ansari, an 8-year-old girl, last week in Kasur, Thursday.
AAP

Demonstrations were held in all cities between Faisalabad in the northeast down to Pakistan's southern metropolis of Karachi after residents were angered police were not doing enough to stop violence against children.

In Lahore, the provincial capital of the state where Kasur is located, protesters blocked a major road connecting the two, causing traffic between them to be suspended.

Police recovered the body of Zainab Ansari from a garbage dumpster in Kasur on Tuesday, four days after she was reported missing.

People hold banners and shout slogans during a protest against the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kasur, in Karachi, Pakistan, 11 January 2018.
People hold banners and shout slogans during a protest against the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kasur, in Karachi, Pakistan, 11 January 2018.
AAP

The chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif visited Ansari's parents to assure them that the perpetrators would be apprehended soon, a provincial government spokesman said.

"(Sharif) has announced Rs 10 million ($A126,000) for anyone giving information about the kidnapper," Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan told Reuters. He said it could not be ruled out that the murders involved a serial killer.

A police official speaking on condition on anonymity said two of Ansari's relatives had been interrogated and 26 locals are currently in custody and being questioned. He added that police are waiting for forensic evidence to be collected and analysed.

Ansari's family doubts justice will be done.

Outrage on social media

The hashtag #JusticeForZainab has been trending on social media as Pakistan residents express their outrage.

Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, implored authorities to take a firmer stance on violence against children.

"Heartbroken to hear about Zainab - a 7 year old child abused and brutally killed in Kasur, Pakistan. This has to stop. Gov and the concerned authorities must take action. ," she wrote.

Pakistan news anchor and mother Kiran Naz brought her child into work in a unique protest against the safety of children.

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