LAHORE: The Child Rights Movement (CRM) Punjab, along with numbers of different civil society organisations staged a protest demonstration outside Lahore Press Club on Tuesday and demanded ban on child domestic labour in the city as well as across the province.
The protesters were carrying banners and placards inscribed with different slogans against killings of two child workers by their employers in city during last few days.
The protesters said deaths of 10 years old Erum Ramzan at Askari 9 North Cantt and 16 years old Azra at Mochipura Faisal Town January 2 and January 5, respectively by their employers was a stark reminder to society and the government of Punjab which had continuously ignored unending brutal and merciless murders of child domestic workers in provincial metropolis.
The organisers of CRM said that Erum’s was the first reported case in which the employer confessed torturing the child which resulted her death but in all reported cases (including of Azra) since January 2010, no employer has admitted the crime.
They said that police registered complaint against the rich employers on complaints of the victim’s families but the CRM feared that police might twist the realities or parents might compromise with culprits because they could stand to influence of the culprits and bear to fight the cases for justice.
Azra had come from poor vicinity in Punjab and worked as maid at the house for three months. The employer claimed that the girl had committed suicide. In all such cases, the employers always make such statements.
It is being reported by the police that at the crime scene there was no hook or other support which Azra could have used to hang herself.
The CRM member Iftikhar Mubarak said that the media and different organisations had reported more cases of torture on and death of child domestic workers in 2013.
The year 2013 proved very lethal for children though the last government had declared it the year of child rights, but in it 21 cases, including eight deaths of child domestic workers (CDWs) were reported.
All of the cases in 2013 were reported from Punjab province only; except two, all were girls.
The CRM Coordinator Ghazi Nazir said that since January 2010 to December 2013, 52 cases of tortures on CDWs are reported including 24 deaths and 85 percent cases were from Punjab. In 2010, 12 cases of torture on CDWs were reported including seven deaths; in 2011, 10 cases of torture on CDWs were reported, of which six children were dead; and in 2012, eight cases including three deaths were reported.
The CRM said that CDWs were deprived of all fundamental rights given in the Constitution of Pakistan (such as Articles 11, 25 (3), 25A) and even the right to life. In June 2013, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had also declared CDW as illegal and unconstitutional and had directed the governments to take measures accordingly. Pakistan acknowledges and prohibits forced labour, external trafficking, slavery and worst forms of child labour only in documents but yet has not been able to take any legal and administrative measures to ban CDW and stop brutal torture and murders of helpless innocent CDWs, mainly girls.
In the light of the UNCRC and its Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, ILO’s Conventions 182 and the Constitution of Pakistan, the federal and provincial governments should immediately declare CDW a form of slavery and include it in the list of worst form of child labour and should immediately be banned across the country under the list of banned occupation given in the Punjab Employment of Children (Amendment) Act 2011.
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