LAHORE: Child domestic abuse continues unabated in the city as another incident was reported on Friday.
In Kahna, a 10-year-old victim of severe domestic abuse was recovered by the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB).
The victim, Hadia Aslam, was sent to work by her mother at the house of the accused Zarqa Shahid in Halloki. Zarqa would so brutally torture the victim that Hadia's screams could be heard by curious neighbours.
A resident informed CPWB of the abuse on the bureau's helpline. A team escorted by local police recovered the victim. An FIR was also registered against her employer. CPWB Chairperson Sarah Ahmad told The Express Tribune that the accused has been arrested. CPWB official Shafiq Ratyal said that the victim's medico-legal was being conducted after which the bureau will take her into custody after completing legal formalities.
Children's Rights Activist Iftikhar Mubarak affiliated with Child Advocacy Network (CAN) said, "There is a sequence of such brutal incidents being reported in the city." He added, "The actual number of such tragic incidents was much higher. CPWB intervened after the incident occurred and a complaint seeking Bureau's intervention was lodged."
The list of abuse-related incidents continues to grow as the mistreatment, discrimination, abuse, harassment, and torture of minor domestic helpers continues. Cases go unreported until neighbours spot the victim after she or he has escaped the abuser's house.
Labour Rights Activist Adam Pal traced out the root cause of the issue of child abuse and said that the issue was deeply connected with economic conditions. "If the economic conditions and living standards of people get better, no one would let her or his children work as a domestic helper." Activist Adam said it was a conflict of the rich versus the poor, a fact hardly discussed at any forum.
"Mere passing of legislation is not a solution to the problem of child abuse. There are lots of legislations, for example, that of minimum wages that are never really implemented. The state does not have the capacity to implement it," the activist explained. "Even provision of Rs15,000 for eight hours works for a man but will never improve his living standards. The issue will be resolved when workers will organise themselves for their rights and launch a movement for their rights," he remarked.
Activist Iftikhar held lack of implementation of legislation as responsible for the negative trend. He said that the recently passed Punjab domestic workers act said that children aged from 5 to 15 will not be allowed to engage in domestic help. He added that however there were many problems when it came to the execution of laws. A person faces serious problems when it comes to reporting cases. He further said, "Law was related to the regulation of domestic workers. Only one clause to it was added that dealt with child domestic help."
The CPWB chairperson said that the relevant law existed and there was a need for accountability and action. She pointed out towards deterrence and maintained that if the people committing such violence were punished, the trend would be discouraged. She concluded that it is a lack of awareness rather than poverty that is the baseline of such incidents.
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