An eight-year-old domestic labourer was tortured to death in Rawalpindi by her employers after she accidentally freed two expensive parrots, local media reported on Wednesday.
According to reports, the eight-year-old, who hailed from Muzaffargarh, was hired to look after the child of a man identified as Hassan Siddiqui who worked in buying and selling birds and property.
Police officials told The Independent, Siddiqui confessed that he and his wife beat up the girl, who was working for them as a maid, in a fit of rage.
“[The] maid was cleaning the cage when she inadvertently let the two parrots free,” a spokesperson said. “Hassan and his wife got infuriated and brutally beat the maid.”
The publication further said the girl was brought to a private hospital on May 31 in an unconscious state and was kept on a ventilator in the ICU but died the next day.
Siddiqui, who had brought the girl to the hospital, had disappeared. However, he was later arrested along with his wife, according to a police report.
The hospital in its medical report said the minor had, “torture marks on her cheek, ribs and thighs.” Her body bore older bruises that had still not fully healed. The report also added that she had injury marks in areas suggesting possible rape.
Incidents of domestic workers tortured in Pakistan not new
Incidents of domestic help being tortured are not new in Pakistan. Last year, the battered body of 16-year-old domestic worker Uzma Bibi was found dumped in a canal and her wealthy employer had been charged with murder. In 2017 a famous TV presenter was charged with forcefully detaining her teenage maid.
On December 29, 2016, Tayyaba, a 10-year-old domestic help, was recovered from the house of a judge after receiving complaints of torture from neighbours. The issue sparked outrage on social media and led to calls for strict and swift justice.
An inquiry report by the police had found that the judge’s wife was responsible for torturing the child maid, and the judge of indirect criminal negligence.
Later, on January 3, 2017, Tayyaba’s parents reached a compromise and forgave the accused. However, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, took suo motu notice of the compromise agreement and ordered the IHC to conduct a trial of the case.
Following the incident, the IHC suspended the judge and made him an officer on special duty (OSD).
IHC Justice Aamer Farooq ruled that the suspended Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar would serve a year each in prison for torturing the child maid under Section 328-A (cruelty to a child).
On January 11, 2018, IHC increased the sentence of the judge and his wife taking their total jail term to three years.
Following the brutal incident, the #JusticeforZohra appeared among the top trends on Twitter with people pouring in their grief and vexation over the injustice with the eight-year-old.
While a few expressed immense despondency over the incident, others appeared disappointed with the corrupt system and ineffective laws.
Manifesting fury over the barbaric incident, social media users raised questions that why was the minor employed at the accused’s house in the first place.
Zahra was working in a house, at age of 7 which is voilation of child labour law and then she was abused & beaten to death…💔
— یَاسِفْ Yasif (@IamYasif) June 3, 2020
Stop employing children! It’s the worst kind of exploitation. It leaves kids vulnerable to abuse. Employ their parents. Support them in going to school. Treat everyone’s children as if they were your own, with kindness & respect. Be a decent human. #JusticeForZohraShah
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) June 3, 2020
#CRMPakistan demands for proper implementation of Article 25A, the Right to Education for every child 5-16 years of age. Especially, girls education is the Best protection for our child. #JusticeForZohraShah pic.twitter.com/npwzmcPJAr
— Tahira Kaleem (@TahiraKalem) June 2, 2020
With belief that trends on Twitter cannot bring justice to the victims that have endured injustice, few irked users called for immediate laws to protect children and ensure their well-being in the country.
7 years old angel
Beaten to death
Another Hawa ki beti
But don't worry.keep sleeping. It's just for today trends will change tomorrow.until then don't wake up from deep sleep.#JusticeForZohraShah pic.twitter.com/9JOWcVK0dx
— Amatu salam (@amatusalam) June 2, 2020
— @Shehzadi Hina (@ShehzadiHina1) June 2, 2020
Calling for strict retribution for the accused, social media users urged the authorities to see this incident as a ‘wake-up call’ on how children in our country are falling prey to weak and incompetent law system.
— Zeeshan Khalid (@pjzaks313) June 2, 2020