After girl’s killing, Pakistani women speak out on abuse

KASUR, Pakistan (AP) _ The brutal rape and killing of Zainab Ansari, a 7-year-old girl whose body was left in a garbage dump, has unleashed a wave of revulsion around Pakistan, revealing a string of child abductions and killings by a suspected serial predator and generating outrage at a culture of silence surrounding sexual abuse.

Zainab’s death has even given birth to a nascent Pakistani version of #MeToo movement.

A number of prominent Pakistani women have come forward with their own stories of sexual assault, saying they want to change traditions that consider abuse as a mark of shame for the victim. Those traditions, they say, help predators get away with abuse and encourage an already corrupt police force to ignore such crimes.

Maheen Khan, a legendary Pakistani fashion designer, tweeted that she had been sexually abused as a child by an Islamic cleric who taught her the Qur’an. “I froze in fear day after day,” she tweeted. At 73, Khan has spoken publicly only once before of the abuse.

“We are now saying enough is enough. We should have woken up long ago,” she said in a telephone interview from her home in the southern city of Karachi. “I am ashamed to say it has taken this one little girl’s death.”

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