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Case of abused maid reveals loopholes in govt’s child protection measures

Case of abused maid reveals loopholes in govt’s child protection measures

By MALIK ASAD

ISLAMABAD: A recent case of abuse of a child domestic employee has revealed the cruel relationship between ‘masters and servants’ and the federal government’s cosmetic measures to protect children.

Instead of an independent entity to handle cases of violence against children, the federal government only has the Ministry of Human Rights’ toothless National Child Protection Centre (NCPC) to deal with such cases.

The centre has no accommodation for girls, and a little space in a hostel belonging to the special education ministry for boys. Victims cannot stay there for more than two or three days, a senior human rights ministry official told Dawn.

The official said female juvenile victims are kept at women crisis centres, which are not meant for them.

He said the ministry has proposed the establishment of a child protection centre with residential units for children, at a cost of Rs350 million, which is still pending with the concerned authorities.

Legislation for a powerful and effective commission for the protection of children is also pending with the legislature, he said.

This may be why the police took 24 hours to take the child into their custody after her abuse and torture, allegedly at the hands of her employer, came to light. Information about the alleged abuse of a child by a serving additional district and sessions judge and his wife spread on social media on Wednesday.

The 10 year old maid, Tayyaba, had been working in I-8/1, in the home of ADSJ Raja Khurram Ali Khan for a couple of years.

On Dec 28, someone from the neighbourhood called the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau’s (CPWB) office in Rawalpindi about Tayyaba’s mistreatment.

Since the bureau lacks the jurisdiction to take up complaints in the federal capital, they passed on the number for Yousaf Shah, the director of child protection at the human rights ministry.

However, it took over 24 hours to register the case with the Industrial Area police.

Tayyaba was missing for a day before she was produced by the police, at which point she exonerated the ADSJ and his wife from the torture charges.

Sources privy to the development claimed the family kept the child away from the police for a day, and instructed her not to accuse them before handing her over to the police.

The police and a medico-legal officer were initially of the view that Tayyaba fell down the stairs, but she later revealed to Assistant Commissioner Nisha Ishtiaq that she was beaten and detained in a storeroom by the ADSJ and his wife over a missing broom.

The matter was also reported by the media, and Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi ordered an inquiry.

Sources in the IHC told Dawn the inquiry officer, IHC registrar Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan, has completed the inquiry and submitted a report to Justice Kasi.

ADSJ Khan was previously suspended in 2013 for misuse of authority and faced an inquiry, before resuming office after around eight months. Sources said the IHC administration did not issue an order for the ADSJ to be suspended during this inquiry, as he was in 2013.

CPWB Chairperson Saba Sadiq has also taken notice of the incident, and directed the Rawalpindi district officer Ali Abid Naqvi to take up the matter with Islamabad’s child protection cell.

CPWB representatives wanted to meet the victim, but were not give access to her by the NCPC director.

According to Mr Naqvi, Ms Sadiq offered the child medical treatment, legal assistance and help with locating her parents.

When contacted, NCPC Director Yousaf Shah said the CPWB is a provincial body that has nothing to do with the case, but added that the bureau’s help would be sought to locate Tayyaba’s family.

He admitted that Tayyaba is staying at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Crisis Centre for Women due to a lack of proper accommodation for girls. He said the child will be handed over to her parents as soon as they are located.

While the NCPC is thinking of reaching her parents, the media may already have located Tayyaba’s father.

Mohammad Azam, a resident of the Jaranwala village, said he has no money to visit Islamabad to see his daughter, but called for justice for his child, who he said he left with the ADSJ when she was only eight years old.

Dawn

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