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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - An eight-year-old girl was allegedly tortured to death in Pakistan by her employers after accidentally freeing expensive parrots from their cage.
Zohra Shah, an unpaid domestic worker, was killed in the posh neighbourhood of Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s fourth-largest city.
The incident stirred debate on Twitter on Wednesday where many, including politicians, demanded justice for the girl. After allegedly committing the violence, the employers took the girl to the hospital and staff confirmed signs of physical torture on her body.
The police said on Monday they received information that Shah succumbed to her injuries after receiving treatment at the city’s Begum Akhtar Rukhsana Memorial Hospital. On Monday, one of the employers confessed to the police that his wife beat Shah because she freed the pet parrots.
Shah belonged to Muzzafargarh, a district in southern Punjab some 580 kilometres from the capital Islamabad. She was hired four months ago to provide domestic help to the family of Hasan Siddique and his wife Umme Kulsoom. The victim’s family sent the minor girl to live and work for good education.
“We have arrested the couple and they confessed to their crime and were sent on remand for four days until June 6. Siddiqui kicked the girl in her private parts and there were bruises on her entire body and she was bleeding”. Police officer Mukhtar Ahmed, who investigated the case, told The National.
Pakistan Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari wrote on
that his ministry was in touch with the police, is following the case and proposed new reform to domestic labour laws.
Viz case of domestic child maid Zohra abused & killed - MOHR is in touch with police. Our lawyer is following case.Husband & wife on 4 day remand. Mohr proposed amend to add domestic labour as hazardous occupation in Schedule 1 of Employment of Children Act1991 @RabiyaJaveri— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) June 3, 2020
According to the International Labour Organisation, it is estimated that there are at least 8.5 million domestic workers in Pakistan, many of whom are women and often children.
The plight of tens of thousands of child domestic workers is alarming in Pakistan. They are hired through parents on a yearly or a monthly basis and violence against them is common across Pakistan. They can face abuse in their positions. In January 2019, 16-year-old Uzma was brutally murdered in the eastern city of Lahore by her employers for just eating a piece of their meal.
Last year, the Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Domestic Workers Act to formalise domestic labour and bring employees under the law after registering them. But activists say the law has many flaws and needs to be addressed.
“Still large numbers of domestic workers in Punjab are not registered doing unpaid work and children are being tortured to death. The registered domestic workers have not received any social security cards from the government. The government needs to promptly resolve their issues,” Arooma Shahzad, General Secretary Domestic Workers Union, told The National.
“While Pakistan has ratified ILO core conventions related to child labour, and there are various local laws enacted in all provinces and territories, the 2019 US State Department Human Rights Report launched in March this year damningly states that child labor remains pervasive, with many children working in agriculture and domestic work,” Osama Malik, an Islamabad-based labour and child rights attorney, told The National.
Updated: June 3, 2020 10:37 PM
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