The fragile shoulders carrying a big burden

Innocent Fatima was raped in the mansion of Ranipur, the facts were distorted with the connivance of doctors, and the girl was buried. Somehow this got out of the mansion’s walls and reached the mainstream media via social media. There was such a protest that orders were issued for the exhumation of Fatima’s grave on the court order. A board was constituted for post-mortem by DG Health Sindh. According to the report issued by the medical board, ten-year-old Fatimah has been subjected to physical violence and sexual abuse with specific parts of the body on both sides. Whoever came to know about this case, his heart has cried tears of blood. Fatima was in Peer’s house where there was also a matter of devotion.

Prevalence of domestic child labour

The incident of torture on Fatima has created a wave of anger and concern across the country. But this incident is not the only incident of its kind. Such cruelty is happening day by day. Victims of oppression by Fatima J are also those girls whose parents keep them as child laborers in other people’s houses for money. Fourteen-year-old Rizwana, whose case came to light at the end of last month from the house of Civil Judge Asim Hafeez, is still fighting for life and death at the Lahore General Hospital. In February, an 11-year-old domestic worker, Rafiq Qoob, was beaten to death in Karachi.

In 2022, a resident of Bahawalpur beat ten-year-old Kamran so badly that he died in hospital. In 2021, 14-year-old Nasreen was tortured so much in Chak Jhamra that a passer-by heard her screams and informed the police. 2020 In Rawalpindi, a seven-year-old domestic worker, Zahra Shah, was beaten to death for opening a bird’s cage. In 2019, the body of sixteen-year-old Uzma was found in a dirty drain in Lahore, a domestic worker tortured and killed by her employers. In 2018, a resident of Rahim Yar Khan threw a 13-year-old domestic worker Bano out of a window, breaking her backbone and dying within six months. In 2017, a 10-year-old domestic worker from Multan was beaten up, nails were put on her body and her skin was torn off in places. In 2016, domestic worker Tayyaba was rescued from Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan’s house in Islamabad with severe injuries. No one can forget the tragic and brutal murder of domestic worker Shazia Masih in Lahore in 2010.

According to a study by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in July 2022, one in four households in Pakistan employs child labor, mostly involving girls between the ages of ten and fourteen. According to a report published in January 2020 by three civil society organizations, the Hari Welfare Association (HWA), Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research (PILAR), and Institute for Social Justice (ISJ), over the past ten years, More than 140 cases of abuse, rape, and murder of child domestic workers have been reported. The report further stated that 96 children were raped and 44 were murdered during these ten years. 79 percent of the reported cases are from Punjab, 14 percent from Sindh, 6 percent from Islamabad, and 1 percent from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. From January 2019 to February 2021, data from Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) shows that 74 cases of violence against child domestic workers were reported in Punjab. In all the cases, the victims are girls between the ages of seven and sixteen.

Domestic child labor is common in the country where children are silently exploited within four walls. Most cases of this nature are not reported in the media but are kept hidden. This is due to several reasons including our society has not only normalized child labor but also ignores child abuse whether it occurs in homes, schools, or workplaces. Then in the case of sexual abuse, it is also hidden as a matter of honor.

To combat domestic child labor and make progress on child protection, the government of Pakistan must align its domestic laws with international laws and commitments. Protection of children is enshrined in Article 19 and Article 32 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Pakistan ratified 33 years ago. Article 19 states, “States Parties shall take appropriate legal, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, abuse or exploitation, including sexual abuse.” ” Article 32 provides further protection to the child by prohibiting any work that is likely to be dangerous or prejudicial to the child’s education, or the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. be harmful

Furthermore, in 2001, Pakistan ratified the ILO’s Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention C 182. which recommends immediate and effective measures to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Convention recognizes domestic child labor as modern slavery, one of the worst forms of labor. Its elimination by 2030 is part of Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals to which Pakistan is a party. The ILO further defines the worst forms of labor as those which by their nature or conditions harm the health, safety, or morals of children. Despite being a party to the Convention, Pakistan has not recognized domestic child labor as one of the worst forms of labor in national law.

Property laws

According to Article 25 A of the Constitution of Pakistan, the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and sixteen years. Despite this, according to a World Bank study, about 23 million Pakistani children between the ages of 5 and 16 do not go to school. Unfortunately, these children are mostly involved in child labor.

Although Article 11 of the Constitution prohibits slavery and forced labor, domestic child labor, the worst form of slavery, is common in Pakistan. Due to the lack of seriousness on the part of the federal and provincial governments, the issue of domestic child labor has not been addressed in the legislative assemblies. It is also worth researching how many legislators are subjected to this brutal labor in their homes. Domestic child labor should be included in the Schedule of Prohibited Occupations under the Employment of Children Act, 1991 by official notification.

Punjab has a list of hazardous jobs for children under the Punjab Restriction on Employment of Children Act, 2016. However, domestic child labor is not among the worst forms of labor. According to the Child Rights Movement, nearly 70 children have been killed in domestic child labor at the hands of their employers in the last 15 years, compared to no other more dangerous industry. Therefore, the recommendation of child rights activists to include domestic child labor in the list of hazardous occupations is based on evidence.

Section 3 of The Punjab Domestic Workers Act, 2019 states that “No child below 15 years of age shall be permitted to engage in domestic labor in any capacity”. However, it allows children between 15 and 18 years of age to do domestic labor. Statistics show that children above 15 years of age, especially girls, are widely abused in domestic child labor. The government should not try to regulate the worst form of slavery and child labor but ban it completely as envisaged in our constitution.

The Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2015 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa states that no child (below 14 years) shall be allowed to be employed or work in any establishment. Similarly, The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017 states that “No child shall be allowed to be employed or work in any establishment”. Looking at the various federal and provincial laws on child labor, the age limit often conflicts with Article 25 A of the Constitution.


Domestic child labor is not only a form of child labor but also a violation of the right to protection of children; Children are victims of abuse and violence; they are neglected and exploited when they work as domestic workers. Ray East needs to work hard to improve Pakistan’s child protection complaints, case management, and protection mechanisms. Implementation of child protection policies is essential. Unfortunately, no child protection policy has been made in any province, the implementation of which has been a long-standing demand of the civil society. Need for interdepartmental linkages; Education, health, social welfare, and labor sectors and child protection bureaus and authorities need to work in coordination.

Not only are the existing laws inadequate, but their implementation is also lacking. There is a need for strong legislation to discourage domestic child labor with clear definitions of rules, procedures, budget allocation, offenses, and penalties. The law-making process should be consultative and encourage recommendations from civil society organizations. It should be participatory and should include suggestions of child domestic workers as agents of change. The situation cannot improve without criminalizing domestic child labor.

Banning domestic child labor will make employers and parents realize that it is against the law and will not engage in it for fear of legal consequences. Authorities will be able to prosecute violators. A massive awareness campaign by the federal and provincial governments and civil society will help reduce domestic child labor by making people aware of the consequences of employing innocent children and endangering their lives.

To tackle the problem of poverty, the minimum wage for adults should be increased and achieved. Social security programs should be linked to children’s education. Article 25 A of the Constitution should be fully implemented. A vigorous campaign against child marriage and family planning should be carried out.

As we demand justice for Fatima and Rizwana, we must not forget that our general denial of children’s rights has increased their vulnerability to abuse. Social acceptance and sensitivity to children’s rights are required. Protecting the children of Pakistan is not the sole responsibility of the United States. Every citizen must ensure that the children of this country enjoy all their rights without exception. All forms of child labor must be completely banned for the holistic growth and development of children.


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