The year 2020 has not been at its most efficient, forcing the world out of their comfort zone in order to bring change and sometimes change has to be forced. Recently a horrifying incident took place in Rawalpindi where an 8 year old girl was beaten to death for “freeing expensive birds” at the house she worked in, and the public demands justice.
Unfortunately, hearing this news will not shock many citizens as it is not the first time a horrendous incident such as this has been committed. The 8 year old, Zohra Shah was an unpaid employee for the family as a domestic worker, the family her took her to the hospital after allegedly committing the crime and it was later confirmed that the child was brutally tortured.
We live in a country where people can employ children to do domestic work without pay and feel a form of entitlement over how they want to treat their domestic staff. The girl came from Muzaffargarh, a district in southern Punjab about 580 kilometres from the capital Islamabad. Zohra was hired four months ago as a domestic worker to the family of Hasan Siddiqui and his wife Kulsoom. Soon later they confessed to their sins and thankfully were arrested, how many homeless children need to die in order for the system to take extremely serious action?
Celebrities and public figures have spoken out, including Osman Khalid Butt, who declared on his social media that child labour laws need to be strictly implemented, condemning the hiring of children as domestic helpers.
The Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari has also cited that the MOHR (Ministry of Human Rights) is proposing an amendment to the Children's Act which includes action against child labour, and as a country we need to make sure this is followed through with.
This case may continue and people will feel justice has been served until it happens to another child and then another, it is the time to speak up as this case has caused public outrage.
The International Labour Organisation estimates there are at least 8.5 million domestic workers in Pakistan, many of whom are women and often children.
“Still large numbers of domestic workers in Punjab are not registered doing unpaid work and children are being tortured to death,”
Arooma Shahzad, general secretary of the Domestic Workers Union, told The National.
There has to be immense work done in order to be able to protect all the children in our country and it will take years but the work needs to begin and be consistent in order for impactful change to come about.