KARACHI: After being released from 20-years of bonded labour, Mumtaz says she still feels like a captive since her family is being threatened back home.
The 56-year-old Christian woman recounted being forced to work without pay, tortured and beaten, at the Karachi Press Club on Friday.
She told the media that she feared for her life and needed protection. “My relatives are being threatened because of us,” she said. Earlier this month, nine members of Mumtaz’s family were saved from forced labour by activists of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. They were working for two feudal lords of Rahim Yar Khan.
“Please protect us. We don’t want to go back.”
The HRCP’s Asad Iqbal Butt said that the organisation came to know about 21 labourers who were enslaved in Rahim Yar Khan last year after which cases were registered against the two accused. The court took notice and issued release orders for all the labourers. All except two, who were Mumtaz’s son, were set free.
According to Mumtaz, when she demanded their release, her family was enslaved again and threatened with accusations of blasphemy.
Despite release order, Mumtaz’s family continued to work without pay for a year. But they were eventually released after the human rights activists traced them.
The family members have been offered to work as sanitary workers in hospitals. “Since they are uneducated, we demand the government to look after them along with providing them protection and jobs,” said Butt.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.