Cases of children being maltreated by their employers, in Pakistan, are surfacing day in and day out. People employ children for “domestic help”, which does fall in the category of child labor, and then they beat their minor employees and, in most of the cases, do succeed in getting away with their crime. But country’s labour laws are insufficient to control the situation.
Pakistan has in place child labor laws but these are not enforced, especially not in the cases of domestic help, where both the employers and the parents should be fined or taken into custody for employing children
In a similar case this month, an 11-year-old child servant, who was being tortured, was rescued from a house in DHA (Defense Housing Authority) in Karachi. The child was rescued by the police, during a raid carried out on Thursday. This is one of many cases that have been discovered by the media this month alone. Unfortunately, nothing positive can be reported on the state having delivered its justice for any of these children so far.
Ali Asghar, the 11-year-old victim, was tortured by the owners of the house: Mohammad Rizwan Shaikh and his wife. He was restrained in the house and was not allowed to visit his parents in the native town.
The perpetrators were arrested by the police after the victim’s father, Mohammad Ishaq, filed a complaint against the house owners. In the complaint made by the child’s father, he alleged that Asghar had been working at a house in DHA and the owner of the house was treating his son inappropriately. After which the raid was conducted.
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The child was taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for treatment and examination of his wounds which were visible in various parts of the body.
A FIR has been registered by the police under section 342 (wrongful confinement) and 34 (similar intent) of Pakistan Penal Code and 337-A (i) and 337-F (i) (Shajjah: whoever causes, on the head or face of any person, any hurt that does not amount to itlafi-udw or itlaf-i-salahiyyat-i-udw is said to cause Shajjah) of Qisas and Diyat Ordinance against the held suspects, Rizwan and his wife.
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Brutality Against a Child Maid
Children employed in domestic help come from the poorest of the families, that are being crushed under the twin burdens of poverty and mounting inflation. Caloric value of food for average Pakistani family has gone down significantly in the last 10 years or so.
Similarly, a child maid torture case emerged in the Federal Capital on last Saturday 18 March. A 12-year-old maid had been working with Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife for the past four years. The housemaid filed a complaint that she had been tortured with hot knives and leather belts with no time granted for her to visit her parents. Unfortunately, neither the government nor the judicial system of the country is taking up the responsibilities of ensuring that the rights of the people are protected. In 2016, Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan had a case filed against him for allegedly torturing his own domestic help.
The girl explained that the beatings had begun two months into her employment by Almas, the employer. Her son, Muhammed Ahmed, daughter Amna, and another employee, Bashir, had bashed the poor child on repeated occasions. The brutality of the case is simply evident from the statements which were given by the girl and her employers.
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Following another event of brutality by the owner, the girl sought refuge in the neighbor’s house who then informed the police. The police then jailed the mother and son who were later let go on the basis of the offense being bailable.
Child Labour Laws & Poverty
Pakistani governments, civic society, media and academia need to develop some holistic approach towards a solution. Creating widespread awareness and societal disapproval of child beatings might be the first important step.
Pakistan has in place child labor laws but these are not enforced, especially not in the cases of domestic help, where both the employers and the parents should be fined or taken into custody for employing children.But the children employed in domestic help come from the poorest of the families, that are being crushed under the combined burdens of poverty, illiteracy and mounting inflation. Caloric value of food for average Pakistani family has gone down significantly in the last 10 years or so. Under the circumstances, Pakistani governments, civic society, media and academia need to develop some holistic approach towards a solution. Creating widespread awareness and societal disapproval of child beatings might be the first important step.
These cases surfacing with time are, no doubt, very few as compared to the actual number of such cases, those hidden from the eyes of the public and where children are being maltreated every single day. Time and again cases have shown that in Pakistan, the rich have protection against the law and the poor have nowhere to turn for solace.