KARACHI: Some 19 child domestic workers (CDWs) of the 41 allegedly tortured by their employers had died across the country over 30 months till June this year, according to a recent report compiled by four rights organisations.
A majority of cases of torture against children were reported in Punjab with Lahore and Gujranwala sharing the notorious distinction of having nine cases each of torture on child domestic workers.
Six of the 41 cases were reported from Karachi in which one child domestic worker was killed — the investigations of that 2011 case yet to complete.
Five cases were recorded in Islamabad as well.
The report titled ‘The unending plight of child domestic workers in Pakistan’ compiled by the Child Rights Movement (CRM) Punjab, the Institute for Social Justice (ISJ), Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Res-earch (Piler) covered the cases of torture on child domestic workers from January 2010 to June 2013.
In six months of 2013, a total of 10 cases had been reported, of which three children had died.
The report said that the children of all ages became victims of torture, but a majority of them were girls as out of 41 cases of reported torture, 34 were girls.
The report said that in a ma-jority of cases, employers con-cocted a story of suicide or some accident, rather than confessing that they had tortured the children.
In the case of a 10-years girl maid of Faisalabad in Jan-uary 2010, the employer claimed that she fell from stairs; but medical reports stated that the child had been tortured and kept without food and medical treatment for weeks that resulted in her death, the report said.
“In another case reported in 2010, the torture on a 14-year girl maid of Islamabad and five of her family members by her employer and the police in Islamabad shows how state agencies meant to protect its citizens are in the business of torture,” observed the report.
The report mentioned the story of 12-year-old Bilal of Gujranwala, whose death was reported on May 15, 2013.
Initially, his employer claimed that the boy had committed suicide and therefore, Bilal’s father did not ask the police to register a case.
However, a medical report proved that Bilal had not hanged himself and was murdered, and then his father lodged an FIR against the employer.
In June 2013, Sana, an 11-year-old girl, was found in a shelter home in Karachi. Two years ago Sana was sold by her parents to a family in Karachi for Rs2,000 per month which they received every month in advance against Sana’s domestic work round-the-clock.
The report said that Sana’s parents were from a rural area of Punjab.
She was found by the media in a shelter home in Karachi who informed her parents that she had run away from the employer’s house because of physical and mental torture.
The report said that the every individual case of child domestic worker was a sheer violation of fundamental human rights — mainly the right to protection, survival and live.
The list of cases also revealed that child domestic workers belonged to low or marginalised sections of society; usually orphans; and from religious minority groups such as Christians and Hindus.
“It has widely been observed that in urban areas middlemen do play active role in bringing children from rural areas or slums so that employers do not face parents of children and any other issues or formalities as was reported in many cases,” said the report.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), there are approximately 15.5 million child domestic workers aged between 5 and 17 around the world. More than 7.4 million of them are between five and 14 years of age.
The statistics reflecting exact number of child domestic wor-kers in Pakistan are not available.
The ILO, however, shows that the number of child labourers in Pakistan exceeded 12 million in 2012 while UNICEF estimates put it at around 10 million.
According to the Child Rights Movement, there are app-roximately 9.86 million children and adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years in Pakistan who are active in the labour force; 2.58 million of them are between 10 and 14, while thousands more are even younger than 10.
The Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Force Survey 2010-11 says that around 4.29 per cent of children aged 10-14 are active in the country’s labour force. It is estimated that 35.4pc of 180 million Pakistanis are under 14 years of age.—Hasan Mansoor