she let his "expensive pet parrots escape"
A Pakistani couple have been arrested for torturing an eight-year-old girl who had been employed by them to work as a babysitter.
The violent crime took place in the city of Rawalpindi, in the Punjab province on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
It was reported that the victim was beaten to death after she accidentally released the couple’s pet parrots.
Zahra Shah sustained injuries to her face, hands, rib cage and legs. A post-mortem revealed that her injuries had resulted in her death.
A police report also said that there were wounds on her thighs which were consistent with a sexual assault.
Following the post-mortem examination, the victim’s body was handed over to her family.
According to police, Hassan Siddiqui admitted that he and his unnamed wife violently attacked Zahra after she let his “expensive pet parrots escape from their cage”.
Siddiqui and his wife had employed Zahra in January 2020 to look after their one-year-old child.
The two suspects were arrested shortly after the victim was taken to hospital.
Zahra was from the village of Kot Addu, approximately 250 miles away from Rawalpindi. She had left her home to work for the Pakistani couple.
Siddiqui had promised her an education in exchange for her work.
Following their arrest, the couple will remain in custody until at least June 6, 2020.
This case has led to increase in focus towards the rights of children, with #JusticeForZahraShah trending on Twitter. Celebrities have taken to social media to voice their opinion.
Actress Mahira Khan posted: “The demons walk freely among us.”
Rapper-comedian Ali Gul Pir said:
“If a child who was killed because she wanted a bird to be free can’t get justice, then nothing that you have achieved matters.”
It comes after the parliament in Islamabad passed new legislation in 2020 to specifically address sexual crimes against children.
The Zainab Alert Bill was passed in January and is named after six-year-old Zainab Ansari who was raped and murdered in Kasur in 2018.
Zainab’s case brought nationwide protests after she was found dumped in the rubbish. Her death was the 12th such brutal incident in the city of Kasur in as many months.
The case involving Zahra Shah has highlighted the issues when it comes to hiring domestic workers, especially minor and teenage children in violation of the country’s labour laws.
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari stated that the ministry had taken notice of the incident and was in contact with the police.
She went on to say that the human rights ministry’s lawyer was also following the case.