ISLAMABAD: A woman and her son arrested for allegedly subjecting a juvenile housemaid to illegal confinement and torture were released on bail on Saturday after a magistrate accepted their bail pleas.
Golra police recovered the 11-year-old girl* from a house in Sector E-11/3 on Friday evening after they were called in by a neighbour. The child maid told the police that she was brought to work at the E-11 house in June 2016 with the consent of her parents in Rahim Yar Khan (RYK). She said a woman named Bushra from her village in RYK brought her about four years ago to work at Bushra’s brother’s house in Kharian and in June last year she took her to work at the house of Almas, Bushra’s sister, in E-11.
The child maid claimed that Almas, her son Ahmed Imtiaz, her daughter Amna, and their servant Basheer had been torturing her for months. The victim said that on March 16, Imtiaz burnt both her shoulders and left arm with a heated knife for allegedly for improper cleaning. “He [Imtiaz] beat me with a belt … Amna slapped and caned me while Almas bibi squeezed my throat and cut my hair,” she said in her statement to the police.
She alleged that on March 16, she escaped to the neighbours’ house after Almas accused the girl of hiding the car keys and threatened to pour boiling water over her and kill her. However, she climbed the wall and escaped to the neighbours who called the police.
The police after recording the child’s statement arrested Almas and her son Imtiaz, and booked them for intimidation, illegal confinement and abandoning a child. Police requested a four-day remand on Saturday. However, counsel for the suspects requested the court to grant his clients post-arrest bail since all their offences were bailable, and the court approved.
A medical examination of the child was carried out at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Friday, the report of which is still awaited by the police.
The child has been sent to live at the crisis centre for the time being.
Medical board awaited
While talking to The Express Tribune, Pims VC Javed Akram said the child maid was brought to the hospital on Thursday night and was given an initial medical treatment by the CMO. “Though Pims has not yet received any orders from the district administration, once it’s requested, a medical board will be constituted …therefore it is difficult to comment on the nature of her injuries,” he said.
While talking to The Express Tribune, child right activists Qudsia Mehmood said: “It seems like the fate of this case will also be like Tayyaba’s torture case mainly because of the absence of any law against child domestic labour in the capital.” She further expressed concern over the whereabouts of another child maid mentioned by the victim who was also allegedly subjected to torture.
“If the culprits of Tayyaba’s torture case had received strict punishment, it would have been a lesson for many and they would have thought twice before torturing an innocent child,” said Mehmood. Meanwhile talking to The Express Tribune, Director General Ministry of Human Rights Mohammad Hassan Mangi said once ICT Child Protection Bill 2016 is approved, child protection officers will be appointed under the law who will have the legal right to take all the vulnerable children; working under domestic child labour or in a factory; into their custody.
*NAME WITHHELD TO PROTECT IDENTITY
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2017.