The tortured body of a minor girl who had gone missing a day earlier was found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Nowshera district on Friday.
A post-mortem examination performed on the nine-year-old child's body suggested she was raped before being murdered, District Police Officer Nowshera Mansoor Aman said.
According to police, the girl was reported missing at 10pm on Thursday after she did not return home from a madressah where she was receiving Quranic lessons.
Her body, bearing signs of torture, was found on Friday morning from a graveyard near her house. It was then shifted to a hospital, where a postmortem examination suggested rape and murder.
A first information report has been lodged and a joint investigation team has been constituted to ascertain the facts of the child's death and to trace the culprits, DPO Aman told DawnNewsTV.
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.
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.