The Children Advocacy Network (CAN) Pakistan has condemned the torture and abuse of child domestic workers and urged the government to take action to stop the practice.
In a statement issued on Thursday, spokesperson Rashida Qureshi said that violence against child domestic workers was on the rise. “Every third or fourth house in posh areas in Punjab has child domestic workers, who are abused, raped, exploited and tortured - even murdered. However, the government has not come up with the necessary legal, administrative and financial measures to prevent and respond to such violence,” she said. “The international community and a UN rapporteur have declared it a form of slavery,” she said.
Salman Abid, the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) Punjab regional head, said that employment of children in households was also against the spirit of Article 25-A of the Constitution and the Punjab Free and Compulsory Education Act 2014.
“They guarantee free and compulsory education to children from 5 to 16 years of age. In child domestic labour, these slave children are not only deprived of right to education, but also the right to health services, right to survival, right to food, right to proper care, right to development, right to have friends, right to play, right to enjoy free time and right to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation,” he said.
Child Rights activist Iftikhar Mubarik said that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Children had suggested to the Pakistan government in 2009 to prohibit the child domestic labour. “The recommendation awaits implementation by the government bodies,” he said.
“According to the data collected by the Institute of Social Justice (ISJ) from January 2013 to December 2014, 34 cases of torture on domestic workers were reported in the media, including 14 deaths. Around 97 per cent of the cases were reported from the Punjab,” the statement said.
“CAN Pakistan believes that there is no possibility of setting up a system and mechanism to monitor and respond to violations of rights of child domestic workers in houses. The government should ban child domestic labour by issuing a notification under the Schedule of Banned Occupation given in the Employment of Children (amendment) Act, 2011, Punjab,” the statement further added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2015.
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