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‘Employment of children as domestic workers must be banned’ 

Islamabad: The brutal incidents like recently happened with an eight-year-old domestic worker, Zohra Shah, in Rawalpindi is contradiction of the government’s claim to make Pakistan on the model of Riasat-e-Madina, said Chairperson Special Committee on Child Rights of the National Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs Mehnaz Akber Aziz on Friday .

She demanded that the employers of the innocent girl should be given exemplary punishment and a strong legislation to prevent child labor should be passed.

The chairperson said the PTI government has not been able to eliminate poverty that forces many impoverished parents to send their children to work rather than to schools.

She said the incident also exposes the hollowness of our education system that produces highly educated individuals who employ underage children for bonded labour.

According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) documents, more than 3,800 cases of child sexual abuse were reported from across Pakistan in 2019. The HRW documents state the numbers are likely to be much higher because of underreporting.

Mehnaz Akber Aziz has strongly condemned the brutal death of Zohra Shah allegedly by her employers. It is to mention here that the severe beating took place on the pretext that she had accidentally set free pet parrots while cleaning the cage.

Aziz has tabled a Domestic Workers Bill 2019 in the National Assembly for the regulation of employment of domestic workers, as the majority of the domestic workers are children.

She said that Pakistan, by signing and ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (1989) has committed to stop the economic exploitation of children, bonded labor of children, maltreatment and physical and mental violence.

As parliamentarians, it is our duty to enact laws that protect the rights of every child whether rich or poor, she added.

Aziz also indicated that the Child Rights Commission should play an effective role to ensure protection and safety of children.

Similar incidents have spiked in the recent years.

In 2019, the tortured body of 16-year-old Uzma was found dumped in a canal after being murdered by her employers on the pretext of taking a single bite of food from the plate of her employers. In 2016, nine-year-old Tayyaba was brutally beaten and tortured by her employer who was a judge.

Aziz lamented that there is no data available on child domestic labor. The government should immediately conduct a survey to determine the number of child domestic labour in order to protect their rights and provide them social security

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