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Tuesday Oct 13 2020

Charsadda rape suspect tells police child died after he tried to stifle her sobs

— Representational stock image/File

A suspect arrested by police, and who they say has "confessed" to the rape and murder of a two-and-a-half-year-old girl, on Tuesday said that the minor died when he tried to stifle her sobs.

The suspect was produced by police in a magistrate's court in Charsadda, the town where the body of the girl was found lying in the fields, on October 7.

The police had arrested eight suspects on October 8 and seven more subsequently.

Read more: Eight suspects arrested after body of kidnapped, raped minor girl found in Charsadda: police

Magistrate Shiraz Firdous granted the police physical remand of the suspect for three days.

According to police, while they were interrogating the suspect, he confessed to having killed the minor. The girl was crying and he covered her mouth to quieten her down, leading to her death, they quoted him as saying.

Police said that "obscene videos" were also found on the suspect's phone.

"He lived alone with his elderly mother and would often be seen begging for alms to get by," they said.

Suspect 'confesses'

Police sources informed Geo News on Saturday that one of the multiple suspects in their custody has "confessed" to the crime.

Police said they interrogated more than 300 people in the case, after which all but 15 suspects were released, of which one "confessed" to sexually assaulting and murdering the minor girl.

They revealed that a murder weapon has been recovered from the suspect and that the crime scene has been identified. With information from the suspect, the police also recovered the girl's shoes from the fields where her body was found.

According to the police, the suspect said that he had abducted the girl from Sheikh Kali and murdered her after raping her.

The police further said that the accused is 40 years old and belongs to the same village as the girl.

'Cruel numbers'

More than eight children were subjected to sexual abuse on average every day in the first six months of 2020 in Pakistan, according to child protection NGO Sahil.

In its six-month "Cruel Number" report, Sahil reported that as of June this year, 497 children were sexually abused.

The NGO said most of the cases were in Punjab — at 57%. Of the rest, 32% were reported in Sindh and 6% in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Of the total children who were subjected to sexual abuse, 53% were girls and 47% boys.

Out of the total reported cases, 62% were from rural areas and 38% reported from urban areas.

At least 173 children were gang-raped, whereas there were 227 reports of attempted sexual assault. Moreover, 38 children were killed after they were sexually abused.

'Less than 3% conviction'

In Pakistan, the conviction rate in rape and sexual assault cases is abysmally low, under 3%, estimates the Karachi-based War Against Rape (WAR).

“Unfortunately, rape and sexual assault is still a taboo subject in Pakistan,” Shehraz Ahmed, programme coordinator at the non-governmental organization WAR, told “Cases of rape are underreported and conviction is even lower, under 3%, across the country.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised robust legislation to deter rising rape incidents and even called for chemical castration of convicted rapists. He has also said the government will introduce a register for sex offenders.

"Rape should be viewed as something that destroys lives. In our culture, families suffer also, and the children, especially, have life-long trauma."