ISLAMABAD: Although child domestic workers (CDWs) have been tortured for years, 2013 proved to be the worst in this regard as 21 such cases, including 8 deaths of children, were reported.
This was revealed in the statement issued by Institute for Social Justice (ISJ) – a non governmental organisation which has been working for the rights of children especially the eradication of child labour.
The number of torture cases and deaths over the past few years (based on the statement) are provided in the table.
All the torture cases reported in 2013 were from Punjab, and except two, all involved girls.
The last reported case of December 2013 was that of a nine-year-old CDW from Gujranwala, who had been beaten up and hanged upside down by her employer on the pretext of stealing gold.
The ISJ press statement said CDWs were sold, exploited, abused, raped, tortured and killed.
The phenomena was generally accepted as the children face trafficking, torture, abuse, exploitation, forced labour, slavery and even murder, it said.
“CDWs are deprived of all fundamental rights given in the Constitution of Pakistan (such as Articles 11, 25 (3), 25(A)) and even the right to life,” the press statement maintained.
Furthermore, the ISJ said the death of Erum, a ten-year-old CDW, by her employer in Lahore in the first week of 2014 was a harsh reminder of the society and government.
Erum is one of the cases which show how children are tortured and killed by employers inside the boundary walls which go unnoticed, it said.
“However, Erum is the first reported case in which the employer has confessed to torturing the child which resulted in her death. [In] all reported cases since January 2010, no employer has admitted to the crime.
“In fact, they influenced the police and later on, courts released them (the culprits) on account of no appearance from the victim’s family side or for lack of evidence,” ISJ said.
Executive Director ISJ Hussain Ahmed, while talking to Dawn, said in light of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the federal and provincial governments should immediately declare CDW a form of slavery and immediately ban it across the country.
“Although the Government of Pakistan has copied the Indian Act of Employment, it has removed the clauses which ensure the ban on CDW,” he claimed.
Mr Ahmed added that in June 2013, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had also declared CDW illegal and unconstitutional, and had directed the governments to take measures accordingly.
He said Pakistan acknowledged and prohibited forced labour, external trafficking, slavery and other forms of child labour only in the documents.
“Practically, it has not taken any legal or administrative measure to ban CDW and stop torture of helpless innocent children, especially girls,” he said.
“We demand legal, moral and financial support and protection for Erum’s family till they receive justice from the court,” Mr Ahmed added.