Child domestic help abuse: ‘Every fifth home in Pakistan has a Kinza or Tayyaba’

Child rights organisations blame absence of law on ‘child domestic labour’ for such incidents

Islamabad: The plight of underage domestic workers in Pakistan is far from sorted, as the Parliament is yet to legislate on the issue of child domestic labour.

There is no law or legal framework to help such children working as maids or domestic help, and who are often victim to torture, harassment, and maltreatment by their employers.

According to child rights activists and volunteers, every fifth household has a ‘Tayyaba’ or ‘Kinza’ working in it, but their lives and stories are not known to the public

Iftikhar Mubarak, executive director of Search for Justice, an NGO working for children’s rights told Gulf News here on Thursday that unfortunately, despite being a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Children’s Rights 1990, Pakistan is far from banning child domestic labour.

The UN convention considers a child as a complete human being and recognises all the rights held by adults for children too, he said, adding that according to an unofficial survey, child domestic labour is in practice in every fifth home in the country.

Even parents do not have the right to send their children out for domestic work, he noted. “Our law doesn’t recognise children’s domestic labour as a form of child labour,” said Mubarak.

Tortured, beaten, abused

Meanwhile, officials of the Child Protection Bureau are keeping mum in the case of 11-year-old maid servant Kinza, who was allegedly tortured by her employers, an army doctor and her husband.

While talking to Gulf News, a senior official of the bureau said he was directed by Rawalpindi district administration officers not to reveal any details of it to the media as “it is a sensitive matter involving an army officer.”

But he confirmed that the child was subjected to severe torture; physical beating had left marks on her body and under her eye, he said. An FIR has been lodged against Kinza’s employers under Section 34 and Section 328-A of Punjab Destitute & Neglected Children Act, he said. The minor has been medically examined, and on Thursday she was treated for severe bruises. The child is currently at a shelter being run and managed by the district administration.

Kinza’s story got widespread public attention after it went viral on social media.

Child Protection Bureau officials and the district police brought the victim and her father back to Rawalpindi last week from their hometown of Samundri in Faisalabad district, after Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari read the social media posts about Kinza.

She was also produced before the court of civil judge Sameera Alamgir, who adjourned the case till October 29, Monday, after recording Kinza’s statement.

Meanwhile, the army lady doctor accused of employing and torturing the girl has also given her statement.

Before Kinza, the case of 10-year-old Tayyaba who faced a similar ordeal had aroused public fury, when photos of her face and arm bearing injuries from torture, circulated on social media in December 2016.

Tayyaba was working as maid at the home of Additional District & Sessions Judge of Islamabad, Raja Khurram Ali Khan, and his wife Maheen. The Supreme Court of Pakistan took a suo Motu and registered an FIR against them. Later, in April this year, the Islamabad High Court sentenced the couple to one year in prison and a fine of Rs50,000 (Dh1,376) each.

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