A sessions court in Dera Ismail Khan on Saturday sentenced a man to death on three counts and imposed a fine of Rs0.9 million on him for the rape and murder of a minor girl.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Usman Wali Khan announced the verdict, sentencing the convict under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder), and 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The minor girl was kidnapped on January 26, 2017, during a wedding ceremony in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Dera Ismail Khan in an area that falls in the jurisdiction of the Town police station.
A First Information Report was registered on a complaint of the girl's paternal uncle by Town police, who initially treated the matter as a missing person's case.
According to police, the child's body was found two days later after which an investigation was conducted which led to the arrest on January 29 of the minor girl's distant cousin, Mohammad Bilal, who confessed to the rape and killing.
Police investigators told the court during the trial that Bilal abducted his minor cousin, took her to a place where he raped her, and later hanged her to death. They also revealed that Bilal had sent a marriage proposal to the victim's family for her elder sister which was turned down by them.
The girl's family members were present during the trial and expressed satisfaction at the outcome.
The court has ordered that of the Rs0.9m fine imposed on the convict, Rs0.7m be given to the girl's family.
The judge also informed the convict that he can challenge the verdict within 15 days.
Rise in child abuse cases
A report released by the NGO Sahil had revealed in August that cases of child abuse increased by 32 per cent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017.
The report found that a total of 2,322 child abuse cases were reported by newspapers in all four provinces, as well as Islamabad, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. In comparison, 1,764 such incidents were reported from January to June 2017.
More than 12 children were abused every day during the January to June period of this year, the data shows.
One of the authors of the report, Mamtaz Gohar had told Dawn that although child abuse cases were expected to fall in the wake of the Zainab rape and murder case, they had unfortunately increased.
“However, another view is that the Zainab murder case gave victims’ families courage to speak out rather than hide incidents of sexual abuse. The good thing is that, soon after that case, a drastic change has been noticed in the attitude and behaviour of families towards such cases,” he said.
Imran Ali, who was convicted for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur earlier this year, was executed in October.