Let’s Talk about MODERN DAY SLAVERY! (Child Domestic Labour) – An Urgent Demand for ‘Child Protection & Right to Education’ in Pakistan
June 12, 2017
Written by: Sadaf Taimur
With 8.25 million home based workers; the number of child labourers, up to 10 years, is around 6 million which requires serious attention from federal and provincial government. With these figures released in National Policy on Home Base Workers, still, estimates of the total number of domestic child labourers in the country are ambiguous. However according to ILO’s 2004 report, 264,000 children are involved in domestic child labour. These children work behind closed doors in the privacy of people’s homes, this lack of visibility greatly increases the potential for exploitation and abuse.
Once a child is inside an employer’s home, s/he is effectively hidden from view; employers have total control over their lives. This is a HIGH RISK SITUATION for a child! Violence and abuse (of many different kinds) can take place behind closed doors, without being noticed by the outside world, which was clearly reflected in Tayyaba’s torture case, where a child was tortured as a domestic servant. The intensity of violence in this torture case was proven by the medical report which confirmed 22 torture marks on Tayyaba’s body, including marks from bruises and burns. This case, fortunately got reported & caught media’s attention. What about those cases which go unreported?? In Pakistan, the brutality in child domestic labour is not a new phenomenon. From 2011 to 2013, 41 cases of violence in child domestic labour were reported, out of which 19 children died due to serious injuries. Last year, a doctor from Peshawar, burned the buttocks of a 13 year old domestic worker with iron, as a punishment. In another case, Rubab, a 10-year-old girl was brutally tortured at the house of a government official.Iram’s death case was even worse; over an alleged theft of Rs. 30,000 from the family, she was murdered. The questions here are: Are the lives of children this inexpensive? & How many more lives are required to be sacrificed to make a point? These cases are clear contraventions of the rights of the children as enunciated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and violation of the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery. More recently, child domestic work is considered in many parts of the world as a worst form of child labour, defined by the ILO Convention 182. The Government of Pakistan ratified Convention 182, in 2001. This binds the government to tackle the issue of child labour by revising legislations and developing appropriate policies and plans.
Article 25-A, was inserted on April 19, 2010 with the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan guaranteeing Free and Compulsory education for ALL (5-16 year olds) as a Fundamental Right. Does the state or its citizens know, what a fundamental right means? Because, if education is compulsory for every child between the age of 5-16, why are children (5-16 years) working at domestic households?; Why aren’t these cases being reported? Clearly the legislation regarding child employment are still not aligned to Article 25-A of the constitution and Article 25-A is not being implemented effectively. Denying children their fundamental right to be educated between the ages of 5 to 16; exposes them to the risk of violence, abuse, development retardation and even death.
Children are our future and Pakistan need to provide them with respect, dignity and most of all “THEIR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS”. To create a prosperous Pakistan; the government should urgently take action to abolish child domestic labour by amending and aligning child employment acts with Right to education and consider right to education as a perfect antidote to child domestic labour.