ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's Supreme Court asked the police on Wednesday to look into allegations that a 10-year-old girl working as a maid was tortured by her employers, an influential judge and his wife, police and a court official said.
The case has shocked many in Pakistan after disturbing photographs of the girl, purporting to show her badly beaten and bruised, circulated on social media.
The uproar initially prompted the Islamabad High Court to order a probe but the case took a new turn on Tuesday, when the girl's parents announced they have "forgiven" the judge and his wife, apparently after reaching a financial settlement with the two.
Human right activist have expressed frustration over the developments, suggesting the girl's employers may have pressured her family. In the Islamic tradition, forgiving an offender in return for financial compensation is common practice among the impoverished classes.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday ordered police to investigate all relevant details and report back.
The girl's name is publicly known in Pakistan. The Associated Press does not identify children who may be victims of abuse. Children in Pakistan often work as servants in homes of wealthier people and in shops, and are frequently subjected to violence.
Zohra Yusuf, who heads the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, has urged the judiciary to take steps to stop violence against servants and in particular, prosecute those "involved in violating the basic rights of a child."
"I welcome the step taken by the chief justice," she told the AP. "I hope he will make it a test case."
Police official Khalid Mahmood said the judge's wife was initially questioned and is now being investigated further.