ISLAMABAD JUNE 05: Hon. Mrs Mehnaz Akber Aziz elected MNA & Chairperson Special Committee on Child Rights of the National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs strongly condemned the brutal death of an innocent 8-year-old domestic worker, Zohra Shah by her employers. The beating took place on the pretext that she had accidentally set free pet parrots while cleaning the cage.
Hon. Mehnaz Aziz said that the incident is a contradiction of government’s claim to make Pakistan on the model of Riasat-e-Madina. The government has not been able to eliminate poverty that forces many impoverished parents to send their children to work rather than to schools. She said the incident also exposes the hollowness of our education system that produces highly educated individuals who employ underage children for bonded labour.
In a Press statement Hon. Chairperson said that the employers of the innocent girl should be given exemplary punishment and strong legislation to prevent child labour should be passed. Hon. Mehnaz Aziz has tabled a Domestic Workers Bill 2019 in the National Assembly for the regulation of employment of domestic workers, as the majority of the domestic workers are children. She said that Pakistan, by signing and ratifying UN Convention on the Rights of Child (1989) has committed to stop the economic exploitation of children, bonded labour of children, maltreatment and physical and mental violence. As parliamentarians, it is our duty to enact laws that protect the rights of every child whether rich or poor. She also indicated that the Child Rights Commission should play an effective role to ensure the protection and safety of children.
Similar incidents have spiked in recent years. In 2019, the tortured body of 16 years old Uzma was found dumped in a canal after being murdered by her employers on the pretext of taking a single bite of food from the plate of her employers. In 2016, nine years old Tayyaba was brutally beaten and tortured by her employer who was a judge.
Hon. Mehnaz lamented that there is no data available on child domestic labour. The government should immediately conduct a survey to determine the number of child domestic labour in order to protect their rights and provide them with social security. Human Rights Watch has documented more than 3,800 cases of child sexual abuse across Pakistan in 2019, but the numbers are likely to be much higher because of underreporting.