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Pakistani Celebrities Say #Metoo Amid Outcry Over Child Rape


FILE - Pakistani designer Maheen Khan, center, takes the catwalk during a fashion show in Milan, Italy, Sept. 30, 2009.

Three Pakistani celebrities have revealed they were sexually abused as children, using the #MeToo hashtag, amid a national outcry over last week's rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl.

As Twitter users responded with an outpouring of support, other women have come forward to share similar stories, defying taboos about discussing sex in the conservative nation.

"I was 4 the first time I was abused sexually," said actress Nadia Jamil, who now lives in England.

"People tell me not to talk to respect my families honor.

Is my families honor packed in my body? I am a proud, strong, loving survivor. No shame on me."

Police found Zainab Ansari's body in a garbage dumpster on Jan. 9 in eastern Pakistan, four days after she was reported missing, sparking calls for #JusticeforZainab worldwide.

Two people died as protests broke out across Pakistan last week 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.

In the aftermath of accusations against U.S. movie producer Harvey Weinstein, millions of women took to social media to share their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted, using the #Metoo hashtag.

Many women in Muslim-majority Pakistan said they were abused by people they trusted, while their families pressured them to keep silent to avoid shame.

Jamil said she was sexually abused by her religious teacher, her driver and a man from an elite family.

"Men abuse across the board. My family still wants me to stay silent. But the shame IS NOT MINE!" she tweeted.

Similarly, fashion designer Maheen Khan, who has embroidered costumes for numerous international plays and films, tweeted that she was sexually abused by her Koran teacher.

"I froze in fear day after day," she said, later adding that she received "innumerable calls with similar sordid stories" after her initial tweet.

Public relations manager Frieha Altaf, who directed Pakistan's biggest awards ceremony, the Lux Style Awards, for more than a decade, said she was sexually abused by her family's cook at the age of six.

"My parents took action but everyone remained silent as if it was my shame," she tweeted, adding that she did not realize the impact until the age of 34 when she went for counselling.

"The only shame is keeping silent."

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