News Analysis |
On 28th January, three women, mother, daughter, and another family member were arrested in Lahore for the murder of their 16-year old maid.
The police report revealed that the minor domestic worker, Uzma, had been brutally tortured by the two accused women, and on 18th January, she was killed and dumped in a drain near the neighborhood. DSP Iqbal Town, Abdul Ghafoor, shared with the press that the mother and daughter had killed Uzma and disposed of her body into a drain, and then “accused her of stealing valuables from the house”.
Mahrukh was the first to be arrested, and once she confessed to Uzma’s murder and revealed her accomplices, her daughter, and sister-in-law were also taken into custody.
The DPS further revealed that Uzma’s family was called to the police station and a theft complaint was filed. Uzma’s body was recovered after a day. The accused women included Mahrukh, a bank officer, her sister-in-law Rehana, and Aima, her daughter. Recent reports reveal that Mahrukh was angry with Uzma for “taking a bite of food from her daughter’s plate”, for which Uzma was punished “by hitting her head with a steel dish several times”, which eventually caused her death.
Shazia Sarwar, Investigations SP, revealed that the women called Uzma’s father to the police station after murdering his daughter, and demanded an investigation on the allegedly “stolen valuables”. Uzma’s family informed the police that the women had a habit of beating up Uzma, and did not allow the family members to meet her, making excuses that “she is out of the city in order to hide the bruises” even though “she would standing right beside the door”.
After the investigation was completed, the two women were sent to jail, and they now await a court hearing.
Uzma’s Heart-Wrenching Ordeal
The reports circulating on news channels and social media reveal that Uzma had been subjected to horrid episodes of torture and violent beatings, which had resulted in multiple fractures. The 16-year old maid was forced to sleep on the bathroom floor, and every time her parents attempted to meet her, they were informed that Uzma was “out of the city”.
The human rights lawyer condemned the incident and brought up an interesting development that has not yet emerged on mainstream media, the case of the FIRs registered against Uzma’s family.
Earlier this month, Uzma was beaten up by the women for eating some food from her daughter’s plate. In a video that went viral on social media, Uzma can be seen extremely distressed and terrorized, while women are laughing in the background.
Reports reveal that Uzma was repeatedly hit with a steel dish, which made her fall unconscious. Then, the family attempt to revive her through electric shocks, administered by themselves using wires at home. Reports released by Dunya TV reveal that little Uzma was “strangled to death and then dumped in the drain”.
The police report says that Uzma’s body is riddled with injuries: her tongue has been cut, multiple bones have been broken, and she had chest injuries as well. Mahrukh was the first to be arrested, and once she confessed to Uzma’s murder and revealed her accomplices, her daughter, and sister-in-law were also taken into custody.
Uzma’s Family Struggles with Legal Procedures
Barrister Hassaan Niazi of the Human Rights Protection Centre visited Uzma’s house and shared his interactions through a live video. The human rights lawyer condemned the incident and brought up an interesting development that has not yet emerged on mainstream media, the case of the FIRs registered against Uzma’s family.
A Worker’s Protection Bill is required that extends support and justice to all domestic worker, alongside special provisions for the safety and wellbeing of underage domestic help.
“I was shocked to discover that the police had registered an FIR against the victim’s family, which includes 8 different offenses, many of which are serious allegations”, he said. He further added that these FIRs have not been discarded yet.
Barrister Niazi pointed out that the government has not clarified its stance on helping Uzma’s family, who belong to a low-income area and will not be able to financially afford legal assistance. The lawyer also noted that the family had “no choice but to send Uzma to work” to overcome the challenges of poverty.
Read more: Child abuse continues unabated in Pakistan
Uzma’s father let out a cry for justice and demanded the culprits to be treated “exactly the same way they treated my daughter Uzma”. The father also pointed out the presence of another man living with the accused family and complained that his name has not been added to the investigations.
The Need to Protect Underage Domestic Workers
In a recent surge of human rights violations, abuse of minor domestic workers has emerged as somewhat of a trend amongst the elite. Only last year in October, Kinza, an 11-year-old domestic worker was brutally thrashed by her employers, and now, Uzma’s death has left the entire nation gripped with shock.
A Worker’s Protection Bill is required that extends support and justice to all domestic worker, alongside special provisions for the safety and wellbeing of underage domestic help. On Twitter, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari announced that an extensive bill to protect domestic workers is under process; however, it still has to be presented in the National Assembly.
Shireen Mazari has taken immediate notice of this case and has assured that justice will be served without delay.
Mina Jahangir with additional input by News Desk.