LAHORE: The Child Rights Movement (CRM) has condemned the brutal death of 29th child domestic worker since January 2010, and demanded the authorities concerned to take stern action against domestic labour.
The CRM urge the current government to immediately ban child domestic labour and ensure protection of children in every sphere of life.
In a statement on Monday, Iftikhar Mubarak of the CRM said that in January 2014, four deaths and two torture cases involving child domestic workers had been reported in the media: Erum, 10, was tortured to death in Lahore; Azra Ramzan, 16, was raped and strangulated in Lahore; Haresh Kumar, 10, jumped off the sixth floor of a building to avoid more torture in Karachi; Waheed, 10, was tortured for stealing money in Multan; Fiza, 15, was raped and tortured – she died after three days in a hospital in Lahore; and Munza, 12, was detained and tortured in Lahore.
It is pertinent to mention here that 29th death of a child domestic worker was reported in the media after the death of Shazia Masih.
Iqra, 13, was found strangulated at her master’s (Mian Shahid) house under mysterious circumstances in Lahore. The police registered the case under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The parents of the child and police have found torture marks on Iqra’s neck. She was working at her employer’s house for the last one year.
CRM Punjab Coordinator Ghazi Nazir said that from January 2010 to December 2013, 52 cases of torture involving child domestic workers had been reported, and that 24 of the victims died.
In 2010, 12 cases of torture on child domestic workers were reported, including seven deaths.
In 2011, 10 cases of torture on such workers were reported, of which six children died dead.
In 2012, eight cases, including three deaths, were reported. In 2013, 21 cases, including eight deaths, of violence against child workers were reported.
All of the cases in 2013 were reported from Punjab province; except two, all were girls. The last reported case in December 2013 was of a nine-year-old girl from Gujranwala, who was beaten up by her employer on the account of stealing gold. She was hanged upside down from a ceiling fan.
Human rights activist Abdullah Khoso said that innocent children were brutally and mercilessly tortured, raped and killed by employers inside the boundary walls, but no one did anything to curb the practice.
Khoso said that the case of Iqra, like other cases, would fade away. “No one will follow up. Parents will either withdraw the case at the police station level or, if the case is registered, will engage in an out-of-court settlement. This is the typical result of every case involving the death of a child domestic worker.”
In 2013, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared child domestic labour illegal and unconstitutional on the application from the Institute for Social Justice, and had directed the governments to take measures accordingly.
Khoso said that the federal and provincial governments, however, are yet to implement the court’s decision.
He said that though last year’s theme on the World Day Against Child Labour was ‘No to child labour in domestic work’, millions of children in Pakistan were still working in others’ houses as domestic slaves, who were raped, sodomised, tortured and deprived of health and education rights.
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