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Rape, Murder of Girl Breaks Pakistan's Silence on Sexual Abuse


Mohammed Amin holds a picture of his daughter Zainab Ansari in Kasur, Pakistan, Jan. 18, 2018. The child whose horrific death enraged a nation and lifted the silence that surrounds child sexual abuse in the country.

The brutal rape and killing of Zainab Ansari, a 7-year-old girl whose body was left in a garbage dump, has unleashed a wave of revulsion around Pakistan, revealing a string of child abductions and killings by a suspected serial predator and generating outrage at a culture of silence surrounding sexual abuse.

People attend a funeral of Zainab Ansari in Kasur, Jan. 10, 2018.
People attend a funeral of Zainab Ansari in Kasur, Jan. 10, 2018.

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.

Mohammed Amin shows a picture of his daughter in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018. Zainab was snatched in early January as she walked to a Quran class while her parents were away on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed Amin shows a picture of his daughter in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018. Zainab was snatched in early January as she walked to a Quran class while her parents were away on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Wrapped in a large shawl obscuring her face, her mother, Nusrat Ansari, held Zainab's photo, describing how she loved to play games with her cousins. Her favorite was hide and seek.
Wrapped in a large shawl obscuring her face, her mother, Nusrat Ansari, held Zainab's photo, describing how she loved to play games with her cousins. Her favorite was hide and seek.

Mohammed Amin, left, offer prayers at a grave of his daughter Zainab in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018.
Mohammed Amin, left, offer prayers at a grave of his daughter Zainab in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018.

A Pakistani girl lights a candle during a memorial for Zainab in Islamabad, Jan. 11, 2018. Zainab's father, Mohammed Amin Ansari, denounced police for failing to warn residents about a serial killer in the city.
A Pakistani girl lights a candle during a memorial for Zainab in Islamabad, Jan. 11, 2018. Zainab's father, Mohammed Amin Ansari, denounced police for failing to warn residents about a serial killer in the city.
An elder sister of Zainab Ansari, left, consoles her younger sister in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018.
An elder sister of Zainab Ansari, left, consoles her younger sister in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018.

​The brutal rape of Zainab has roiled Conservative Pakistan and revealed a sexual predator who has raped and killed at least 11 girls in Zainab's hometown of Kasur.

One of the victims was 4-year-old Asma. She was raped and killed, her body abandoned in a field near her home in Mardan. In this image taken on Jan. 19, 2018, villagers visited her house.
One of the victims was 4-year-old Asma. She was raped and killed, her body abandoned in a field near her home in Mardan. In this image taken on Jan. 19, 2018, villagers visited her house.

Posters reading "protest," pasted at walls of a neighborhood of Zainab in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018. The rape and murder of the young girl sparked deadly clashes between protesters and police.
Posters reading "protest," pasted at walls of a neighborhood of Zainab in Kasur, Jan. 18, 2018. The rape and murder of the young girl sparked deadly clashes between protesters and police.

Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek take part in a demonstration to condemn the brutal killing of Zainab Ansari in Lahore, Jan. 13, 2018.
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek take part in a demonstration to condemn the brutal killing of Zainab Ansari in Lahore, Jan. 13, 2018.

On Jan. 23, authorities announced the arrest of a suspect in connection with the series of killings, including Zainab's. At a news conference in the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif identified the suspect as Mohammed Imran. He was arrested near Kasur.

A student shares information with her classmates regarding awareness about rape and kidnap attempts at a school in Kasur, Jan. 19, 2018.
A student shares information with her classmates regarding awareness about rape and kidnap attempts at a school in Kasur, Jan. 19, 2018.

A child protection committee has launched a program in schools warning children against going with strangers following the brutal rape of Zainab.

Surrounded by journalists and security forces, a prison van carrying Mohammad Imran, who is accused of the brutal killings of eight children in the eastern city of Kasur, arrives to a courthouse, in Lahore, Jan. 24, 2018. The Pakistani court has given police two weeks to interrogate the suspect.
Surrounded by journalists and security forces, a prison van carrying Mohammad Imran, who is accused of the brutal killings of eight children in the eastern city of Kasur, arrives to a courthouse, in Lahore, Jan. 24, 2018. The Pakistani court has given police two weeks to interrogate the suspect.
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