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Family rewards maid with scars

LAHORE, July 10: The Lytton Road police have recovered a 10-year-old maid from a family which subjected her to severe torture at their Katcha Ferozepur Road residence, witnesses and police said.

The law enforcers arrested the house owner and registered a case against him. The girl, who claimed her father had died six months ago, was recovered in the presence of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Child Protection & Welfare Bureau officials.

Surraya, a daughter of Ashiq (of Rauk village in Faisalabad), had been working as maid at the house of Sheikh Iftikhar for the last couple of months. She told Dawn that her maternal aunt Khurseed brought her to the house for work.

Right from the day one, she said, all members of the family (her employers) treated her like animal. “Begum Sahiba would awake me at 5am in the morning with drubbing through clubs and pipes. On each negligible mistake, she would abuse and thrash me,” Surraya said, adding that washing clothes, crockery and washroom were her main duties.

She claimed that she was deprived of proper food intake during her stay and was forced to sleep by 2am in the night. “The family even threw boiled water on my body for any minor mistake,” she said. According to the girl, the employers would pay her Rs200 as remunerations.

Surraya, who claimed having worked in two houses in Faisalabad previously, wishes to return home where she has her mother and two siblings.

A neighbour of Mr Iftikhar, seeking anonymity, told Dawn that he had been hearing screams of the girl for the last one and-a-half month. The whole family used to thrash her, he said, and on the day of the recovery, the area people witnessed scars on the face and arms of the maid.

He said most of the neighbours knew about the family’s brutality and had suspicion that there must be some psychological problem with all members.

Civil Lines Divisional SP Ahsan Younis told Dawn that the medical report of the girl confirmed scars on her body. He said an FIR was lodged against Sheikh Iftikhar on the complaint of area people with sections 337 L-II of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 35 of the Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act 2004.

He said the child had been handed over to the CPWB whose officials would hand over the girl to her parents.

CPWB director programmes Zubair Shad, when contacted, said the child had been shifted to the Montgomery female branch of the bureau. He said the parents of the child would have to fill surety bond to take her possession.

He said an official of the CPWB reached the house of the family together with the Lytton Road police and recovered the child.

Mr Shad said the bureau was seeking cooperation of Unicef to introduce regulations for employment of domestic workers to ensure fix working hours and end deprivation.
Source: Dawn
Date:7/11/2008

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