Zainab Ansari, it’s unlikely that any of us would ever forget this name as it shook the country from its core.
For those of you that might’ve forgotten why that name rings a bell, Zainab Ansari was a 6 year old girl from Kasur, Pakistan. Her parents had gone to perform Umrah in Saudi Arabia and left Zainab with her uncle. On January 4, 2018 she left for a Quran class and was abducted.
Her uncle, Muhammad Adnan, noticed that she was missing and lodged a complaint with the Kasur District Police Office. The police didn’t take him seriously, he and his family were looking for her themselves and discovered footage of 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 9 January 2018.
After the autopsy, it was confirmed that she had been raped and possibly sodomized, she had visible marks of torture on the face, congestion in the muscles, the tongue badly bruised and injured as pressed between the teeth, mud, fecal matter and blood found on the body. She was subject to extreme torture before her murder.
The assailant Imran Ali’s arrest was announced in a press conference on 23 January 2018. He confirmed in the polygraph test and the DNA of the suspect matched with the samples with least eight minor girls, including Zainab, who were raped and murdered – all belonged to the same neighbourhood.
Imran Ali was a 24-year-old mechanic who lived in Zainab’s neighbourhood. He had even taken part in protests against her murder. Police also found the jacket worn by the suspect, which was seen on CCTV while he was taking Zainab with him.
He ended up confessing his crimes and the court handed him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a seven-year jail term and Rs. 3.2 million in fines.
He was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Zainab and twelve other underage girls, and was executed in the early morning of October 17, 2018, at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.
He was executed but the abduction of rapes of people and especially children didn’t stop – he wasn’t the only one of his kind. Our country is filled with monsters like these.
People protested and called the government to do something, to protect our children from horrors like this. Indeed, the smallest coffins are the heaviest. The protests gave way to the “Zainab Alert Bill” which was passed by the National Assembly Committee in Islamabad.
This bill was to help make provisions for raising alert, response and recovery of missing and abducted children.
The Government will work to establish The Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Agency for Missing and Abducted Children (ZARRA)
The ZARRA will:
- Consist of staff that suitably equipped with the skills of managing databases, conducting planning and monitoring of programs, analyzing data, preparing reports and coordinating with all other offices.
- Activate Zainab Alerts when there is a missing or abducted child, at the Federal Capital level, which will include information on the physical characteristics of the missing or abducted child as well as any other data that would help in the child’s identification, so as to inform the public at Large and all concerned agencies to whom these alerts will be issued.
- They will set up a nationwide toll free helpline, where the missing child can be reported and it can be used by anyone who has any information about the missing child.
- They will maintain an online database both in the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NRC) and Division concerned of every reported incident of a missing or abducted child. the action taken, the current status of the case and its final outcome. This database shall be monitored for accuracy and shall be kept updated at all times. It will be available to the public in both English and Urdu.
The Director General of ZARRA will establish Missing Child Recovery Teams (MCRT) At the level of the Federal Capital and equip them with individuals conceptually and technologically, highly trained in Functions such as investigations, forensics, rapid response, search, rescue and recovery operation.
The station where the reports of the missing children are lodged at, if the officers do not take the case seriously and act within the first 2 hours, the officers may face jail time for upto 1 year and fines.
Anyone misusing the system and trying to create a false report can face up to six months in prison and a fine of PKR 100,000.
Section 364 A of the bill states that anyone found guilty of abducting or kidnapping a child could face the death penalty, imprisonment for life, imprisonment for no less than 7 years and a fine no less than PKR 10 Million and can extend upto PKR 20 Million.
While filing the report the parents/guardians need to give the stations the following information:
This will help kickstart the search. Having a proper checklist to fill out will really cut down on the time wasted in questioning the parents aimlessly.
Overall, this bill was a long time coming. We needed this. We’ve needed something that would help us as a community to keep our children safe. Seeing that now that government is finally doing something to make sure that missing children are found and found alive and well is really refreshing to see. It gives me hope for the future. The future of our children.