In another case of everyday brutality, police raided a house in Johar Town, Lahore, where it had been reported that a maid as young as 11 years was being tortured. What they found was a minor girl, beaten and bruised, her face swollen and bloodied, employed for as little as Rs 5,000 per month. Apparently, the husband and wife that employed her administered this beating on the complaint of their son who accused the little girl of snatching a book from him. Yes, apparently, that is all it takes for so-called civilised folk in this society to turn savage. The male employer is a grade 18 officer of the audit and accounts department of the federal government, who has now been arrested for the abuse of this minor. His wife is also involved in this crime and has yet to be arrested. Only when the Child Welfare and Protection Bureau was alerted was this action taken, otherwise who knows how much longer this treatment would have been meted out to this young girl.
There is no protection of any kind, whether legal or physical, for the large numbers of domestic servants scattered all over the country, working in different homes, most of whom are young girls who should not be employed in conditions open to abuse in the first place. The Johar Town incident is in no way an isolated one; it is the kind of story we as a people have become desensitised to. We have never established how important it is to have a proper system of monitoring and registration for these workers who work for little pay and under trying circumstances. A domestic workers trade union has been formed by the Pakistan Workers Confederation with the aim to give some sort of rights and dignity to the vast numbers of domestic workers in the country. This union needs to ensure that registration of workers is done first and foremost so that tabs can be kept on where they are working and under what conditions. The authorities need to work with this union and set up a strict monitoring system that reins in people who keep their domestic help in negligent or criminal circumstances. Too many children are prey to the wickedness and barbarity of people who are materially privileged and should be an example of empathy, love and caring. That is not the case and so the relevant authorities need to do all they can to ensure that cases such as this one are a rarity, not the norm, and all cases of abuse are dealt with strictly according to the law.