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Violence Against Child Domestic Workers Continues, As Does The Govt’s Apathy

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In yet another violent incident against domestic workers, an 8-year-old child maid named Zahra was beaten to death by her employers in Rawalpindi on Tuesday. Violence against child domestic workers continues in Pakistan despite legislation by the federal and provincial governments in this regard. Due to poor implementation of the laws, people continue to employ minors who ought to be in schools as house help, while state acts as silent spectator.

Like Zahra, many children have been killed and tortured by their employers for trivial reasons. In Zahra’s case, suspects claimed that she was beaten after she let the ‘expensive pigeons’ out. The FIR stated that she also had wounds on her thighs which suggested that she might have been sexually assaulted. The couple has been arrested and will probably face a trial.

In Feb 2020, Lahore police arrested a woman for physically abusing her domestic help in C Block of the Defence Housing Society. According to a national daily, the woman beat up the 14-year-old kid, cut off her hair, and then left her on the street.

In Jan 2020, Sana, a 15-year-old maid, was allegedly tortured and killed by her employer in Chung. According to the initial examination report, the girl was tortured and had injury marks on her face and head.

In another incident reported by Guardian in Aug 2019, Bano, a 13-year-old girl working in Bahria Town in Rahim Yar Khan, was thrown out of a window by her employer and her backbone was irreparably damaged, leading to her death six months later. Her father settled with the family for money instead of taking them to court.

In Jan 2019, 16-year-old maid Uzma Bibi was allegedly tortured and murdered by her employer in Lahore for helping herself to a small piece of meat. Police said Uzma died after blows to the head with a kitchen utensil. She had been working for the family in Lahore for eight months when she was killed.

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In 2017, an Islamabad judge and his wife were arrested and later sentenced to three years for torturing a minor domestic worker, Tayyaba. The picture of the child, with her face bruised and eye swollen, that went viral on mainstream and social media had forced the country to soul search. However, some years on, the judge and his wife got their sentences reduced to a single year in Jan 2020 and are soon to walk free.

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