Pakistan passes child abuse law after girl’s rape and murder

Pakistan passes child abuse law after girl’s rape and murder
Members of Civil Society light candles and earthen lamps to condemn the rape and murder of 7-year-old girl Zainab Ansari in Kasur, during a candlelight vigil in Islamabad, Pakistan January 11, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 March 2020

Pakistan passes child abuse law after girl’s rape and murder

Pakistan passes child abuse law after girl’s rape and murder
  • Pakistan’s first national child abuse law will introduce a penalty of life imprisonment for child abuse
  • Zainab Ansari's body was found in a garbage dumpster in Kasur district near the eastern city of Lahore in 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s parliament passed a new law against child abuse on Wednesday, two years after the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl that shocked the country.
Pakistan’s first national child abuse law will introduce a penalty of life imprisonment for child abuse, said Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari.
It follows the death of Zainab Ansari, whose body was found in a garbage dumpster in Kasur district near the eastern city of Lahore in 2018, sparking large protests and accusations of negligence by authorities.
There had been reports of a number of missing children in the district since 2015, when authorities uncovered what they said was a paedophile ring linked to a prominent local family.
Mazari tweeted that the bill’s passage had been “a long struggle” as she thanked colleagues for helping it clear numerous hurdles.
“Finally, we have emerged today successful, getting the Zainab Alert Bill sailed through the National Assembly with a majority of votes,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
An amended version of the bill cleared Pakistan’s legislative assembly late on Wednesday after being passed by the upper house earlier this year. It is expected to receive the formal assent of the president in the coming days.
Zainab’s case triggered debate in Pakistan over whether to teach children how to guard against sex abuse, a taboo subject in the Muslim majority nation.
Nearly 10 cases of child abuse a day are reported in Pakistan, according to Sahil, an organization that works on child protection, with girls disproportionately affected.
The law requires police to register a case within two hours of a child’s parents reporting them missing.
It includes measures to speed up the process, including the establishment of a dedicated helpline and a new agency to issue alerts for a missing child.

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Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 16 min 44 sec ago

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.