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“The smallest coffins are the heaviest, and the entire society is burdened by the weight of her coffin.”
News anchor Kiran Naz of Samaa TV said these words as she hosted the news with her own small child in her lap, in response to the recent rape and murder of a young girl.
“Today I am not Kiran Naz,” the Pakistani news reader began. “Today I am a mother. That’s why I am sitting with my daughter.”
The body of eight-year-old Zainab Ansari was found in a garbage bin this week, four days after she was abducted from her home in the Kasur district. Describing his grief, her father Ameen told the BBC: “It’s like the world has ended… I have no words.”
— SAMAA TV (@SAMAATV) January 10, 2018Advertisement
The incident has sparked nationwide protests, with many calling for the government to do more to protect children. The protests have turned violent, with a mob throwing stones and some shooting bullets at a local police office.
Ameen told the BBC that he didn’t approve of the violence of the protesters, but understood the anger at police.
“If the police had done their jobs properly then they would have found her as soon as they got hold of the CCTV,” he said.
It is the 12th murder in the town in a year, and has raised concerns from the public that a serial killer may be responsible, hence the outrage that has made international headlines.
Two people were killed when police fired at angry protesters, and a local resident said schools, offices, and markets remained shut in the town.
The chief minister of Punjab province, Shahbaz Sharif, visited Ansari’s parents to assure them that the perpetrators would be apprehended soon, a provincial government spokesman said.
“(Sharif) has announced Rs 10 million ($20,000 AUD) for anyone giving information about the kidnapper,” Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan told Reuters.
The hashtag #JusticeforZainab is trending on Twitter, but despite the publicity, Ansari’s family doubts they will see justice done.
“We don’t have any expectations from police, as we gave proof to police including the CCTV footage, but they could do nothing,” said her uncle Hafiz Muhammad Adnan.
Deeply pained about murder of a 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
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) January 10, 2018
“It appears as if the kidnapper is a local who developed familiarity with Zainab to take her along, probably telling her that he would take her to her parents,” he said.
The family's anguish is one that every parent, and every decent person, can only attempt to empathise with - which is exactly what news anchor Kiran Naz was doing in her report. The public use of her own child to make her point has been questioned, but her intentions can't be; we all want a safer society for our children, and should use every tool we have to demand it.