Protests have followed in the wake of the rape and murder of Zainab Ansari, aged 8, whose body was found on a rubbish tip in eastern Punjab, Pakistan on January 9, 2018.
Zainab disappeared as she walked to a religious studies class on January 4, 2018; she had been staying with relatives whilst her parents were on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
CCTV images show her holding a man’s hand as she walked away from home and her body was found 5 days later more than a mile away.
Police say she had been raped and strangled to death before her body was dumped.
They are appealing for help to identify the man in the CCTV footage.
Violent protests have broken out in the city of Kasur, where Zainab lived, as well as in Lahore and Karachi, amidst an international outcry.
Two protesters have died and dozens were injured in the unrest as rocks were thrown at the police station and government buildings and car windows were smashed.
A local police chief has been sacked as protesters argue that law enforcement did not do enough to find her attacker, whilst three police officers were arrested for opening fire directly at protesters rather than into the air during clashes on January 10, 2018.
Public officials are attempting to contain public anger and have said they are investigating whether Zainab’s death is connected to the sexual assaults on 8 other girls in recent months in the region.
Zainab’s parents claim that the police were negligent in their efforts to find her when she was reported missing.
Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said he had met with Zainab’s father on January 11, 2018 to hear concerns and offer assurance of justice.
According to local police, Zainab Ansari is the 12th girl to have been abducted, raped and murdered in the last year in the Kasur district.
Thomson Reuters Foundation conducted a poll in 2011 that named Pakistan as the 3rd most dangerous country in the world for women, due to acid attacks, child marriage and punishment by stoning.
On average, 11 child sexual abuse cases are reported across the country every day, according to data from the child protection charity Sahil.
In January to June 2017 alone, 1,764 child abuse cases were reported in Pakistan, with more than 60% originating from the Punjab region.
In 2016, Pakistan tightened legislation to protect children, criminalising sexual assault, child pornography and trafficking, where previously only rape was criminalised.
It followed the exposure of a paedophile ring in Kasur that was circulating pornographic videos.
Sahil spokesman, Mamtaz Gohar, said not enough had been done to ensure justice for the estimated 280 victims in the case.
The Pakistani justice system and police investigation units have been condemned as highly skewed, whilst the country has been criticised by its own citizens as being extremely unsafe for women and girls.