Zainab Ansari was a 6, 7, or 8-year-old Pakistani girl who was on her way to Quran recital when she was found raped and murdered which incited protests and outrage in Kasur, Punjab, Pakistan.
The incident happened when Zainab’s parents had gone to Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah and Zainab was living with her aunt. On 4 January 2018, while going to a Quran tuition class which was very close to her house, she went missing. Her uncle, Muhammad Adnan, lodged a complaint with the Kasur District Police Office. CCTV video footage which was discovered by Ansari’s family members, with no help from the authorities involved, shows her accompanied by an unknown bearded man in white clothes and a jacket, holding her by the hand and walking on Peerowala Road in Kasur. Her body was later found in a garbage heap in Shahbaz Khan Road on 9th January 2018. After an autopsy, it was confirmed that she had been raped and strangled to death. The autopsy suggested that she endured captivity and torture before her murder. Her funeral was led by Tahir ul-Qadri. It is suggested that the person who lured Zainab was very close to her family, some have even linked the suspect to be involved in the Kasur’s infamous child abuse incident a few years back.
Meanwhile, her parents were devastated after the loss of their child, her mother while speaking to the media was severely saddened with deep grief only demanded justice for her child.
There were huge protests in Kasur and other major cities of Pakistan, during the clash with the police, two people were killed after they broke into a police station.Four policemen who allegedly opened fire at protesters “[had] been arrested and being interrogated.”
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said:
“Deeply pained about the brutal murder of an 8-year old girl in a child molestation case. Those societies that cannot protect its children are eternally condemned. Not going to rest till the perpetrators of this dastardly act are apprehended & given severest possible punishment under the law”
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai wrote on Twitter, “This has to stop. [Government] and the concerned authorities must take action.” Imran Khan, the leader of PTI and a former cricketer, tweeted, “The condemnable & horrific rape & murder of little Zainab exposes once again how vulnerable our children are in our society.”
Cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a political rival of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, “demanded the local government be replaced, saying it has ‘no right to remain in power after the killing of Zainab Ansari'”.
Kiran Naz, a news anchor on Pakistan’s Samaa TV, hosted a January 10 bulletin with her young daughter on her lap as an act of protest. At the Sindh Assembly, artist celebrities Ayesha Omer, Nadia Hussain, Faysal Qureshi and others met on January 12 with Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, demanding laws and justice to prevent such tragedies in the future. Mahira Khan, Ali Zafar, Imran Abbas, Mawra Hocane, Saba Qamar as well as cricket legends Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar tweeted about the incident, condemning the brutal rape and murder, while also trending the hashtag #JusticeforZainab.