ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday took custody of a 10-year-old girl at the centre of a child abuse case that has shocked the nation and sent her to a child care facility.
The development came during a hearing at the Supreme Court, which also saw the girl and both her parents appear in court for the first time.
The father was questioned by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar about media reports that he had "forgiven" his daughter's alleged torturers, an influential judge and his wife for whom the child worked as a maid, in exchange for financial compensation.
Forgiving an offender in exchange for money is common practice in impoverished circles in the country.
The child sat quietly in the courtroom, appearing bewildered at the media frenzy around her. Nisar said the girl is to stay at the childcare centre at least till the next hearing on Jan.18.
The names of the girl and her parents are publicly known in Pakistan. The Associated Press does not identify children who may be victims of abuse.
Also at Wednesday's hearing, forensic experts testified that their examination of the child found 22 recent and old signs of burns and other scars on her body, a likely indication of abuse.
The girl's plight became the focus of Pakistani media after disturbing photographs of the child, purporting to show her badly beaten and bruised, circulated on social media earlier this month.
It's the latest case of violence against children in Pakistan, where many minors often work as servants in homes of wealthier people and in shops, and are frequently subjected to violence.
The uproar prompted the Islamabad High Court to order a probe into the case and human rights activists stepped forward, demanding justice for the child. When reports emerged that the girl's parents forgave her abusers, activist suggested the girl's employers may have pressured the family to keep quiet.