Child labour: ‘Child domestic workers face brutal torture’

Two child workers were reported tortured to death in this month. PHOTO: FILE

Two child workers were reported tortured to death in this month. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The Child Rights Movement (CRM) Punjab – a collaboration of civil society organisations – staged a demonstration in front of the Press Club on Tuesday in protest against the alleged murder of two domestic child workers by their employers in Lahore this month.

Erum Ramazan, a 10-year-old domestic help, and Azra, 16, were allegedly killed by their employers in separate incidents on January 2nd and 5th. The protesters said the murders were a stark reminder for society and the government who have constantly ignored the brutal murders of child domestic workers in the Punjab.

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They said Erum’s was the first case in which the employer had confessed to torturing the child to death. In all reported cases, including Azra’s, since January 2010, no employer had ever confessed to torture or murder. In fact, they often influenced the police and later the courts would release them for lack of evidence or no appearance from the victim’s side.

Erum, a resident of Jandra, Okara, was found dead in Altaf Mehmood’s house in Askari-9. Erum’s mother said that Naseera, Mehmood’s wife, her son Muhammad Ibrar and two unidentified people had tortured her daughter to death. She said that her daughter had been working at their house for the past three months. Erum was found covered in bruises. Her hands were tied. Three days after this incident, Azra was found raped and strangled at her employer’s house. Her employer had claimed that she had committed suicide.

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While police have registered cases against the employers on the complaints of the victims’ families, the protesters said they feared that the police may change the FIR or the victims’ families might accept blood money instead of fighting for justice.

Iftikhar Mubarak, a CRM member, said the media and various organisations had reported several cases of torture and murder of child domestic workers in 2013. The last year had proved very bad for child labourers even though the government had declared it the year of child rights. Yet 21 cases, including eight deaths, of child workers had been reported during the year, protesters said. In all of the cases reported from Punjab in 2013, except for two, all the victims were girls.

CRM Coordinator Ghazi Nazir said from January 2010 to December 2013, 52 similar cases had been reported, including 24 deaths. She said 85 per cent of the cases were from the Punjab. In 2010, 12 cases of torture and seven deaths of child workers were reported; in 2011, 10 cases of torture and six deaths were reported; and in 2012, eight cases including three deaths were reported, she said.

Source: The Express Tribune

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