Unending plight of child domestic workers in Pakistan

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Unending plight of child domestic workers in Pakistan

The Child Rights Movement (CRM) – a coalition of 150 NGOs in Pakistan- hold a protest in front of Islamabad Press Club and demanded the federal and provincial governments to take notice of the increasing numbers of deaths of child domestic workers in the country and ban the slavery type occupation immediately. Other coalitions like Insani Hukook Itehad (IHI) and EVAWG Alliance also took part in the protest and expressed serious concerns over the issue. A big number of participants had come from the CRM Pakistan’s chapters in AJK, Balochistan, KP, Punjab and Sindh.

The protestors said that only in January 2014, six cases of torture on child domestic workers were reported by the media, of which four children are dead. From January 2010 to December 2013, 52 cases of tortures on child domestic workers were reported including 24 deaths. In 2010, 12 cases of torture on CDWs were reported including 7 deaths. In 2011, 10 cases of torture on CDWs were reported, of which 6 children were dead. And in 2012, 8 cases including three deaths were reported. Although child domestic workers (CDWs) have been tortured for years and while cases of torture are under reported, 2013 proved to be the worst in this regard as 21 such cases, including 8 deaths of children, were reported.

The protestors chanted slogans against employers and on the helplessness of the current democratic government, unconcerned about unending deaths of innocent slave children who live and work in conditions of slavery, are tortured, raped and killed by employers.

The protestors demanded that child domestic labour has been declared as slavery and the worst forms of child labor by the international community in ILO convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child labor to which Pakistan is a signatory. Pakistan has still not declared child domestic labor as the worst forms of child labor under convention 182; in 2006 the India has banned the employment of children below the age of 14 as domestic servants.

It is worth noticing that in 2006, India banned the employment of children below the age of 14 as domestic servants but Pakistan dreadfully lags behind.

The CRM Coordinator said these children live like slaves because they are deprived of all fundamental rights given in the Constitution of Pakistan (such as Articles 11, 25 (3), 25A) and even the right to life. She also said that Pakistan acknowledges prohibition of forced labour, trafficking, slavery and worst forms of child labour, and has ratified the core UN and ILO Conventions for the protection of children from bondage, slavery, trafficking and exploitation but yet, the country has not been able to take any legal and administrative measures to end slavery like child domestic labour in Pakistan.

In the light of the UNCRC and its Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, ILO’s Conventions 138, 182 and 189 and the Constitution of Pakistan, CDL should be declared a form of slavery and the worst form of child labour and should immediately be banned across the country, in the list of banned occupations in the Employment of Children Act (ECA), 1991.

The CRM hopes that the current federal and provincial governments will put an end to the discrimination, sexual exploitation, abuse and slavery faced by some children and by child domestic workers in particular. The protestors were demanding to ban child domestic labour in ICT, Azad Jammu Kashmir, Balochistan, FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan, Punjab and Sindh.