Tayyaba case was all over the internet in Dec, 2016; when a local judge Raja Khurram Ali and his wife Maheen Zafar beat the hell out of a young girl. The case may have been hushed under the carpet like it’s been happening since ages but social media uproar did not let it die down. Finally authorities had to intervene and justice was served to poor Tayyaba.
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) January 3, 2017
Child domestic labor is not new in our south Asian culture due to abject poverty. But most importantly a flawed judicial system is the main culprit that allows offenders to get away with mistreatment of their servants using money and contacts.
Although Pakistan is a member of International Labor Organization and a signatory of more than 30 treaties of Worker’s Rights but legislation and implementation is still lacking especially in case of domestic workers.
The breakthrough came yesterday when Lahore High Court banned employing any domestic help less than 15 years of age. Although Pakistan has passed laws to curb child labor but still more than ten million children are employed in factories and homes where they have to compromise their right to education, face mistreatment, sexual abuse and malnutrition.
Lahore High Court banned it while hearing to the petition filed by advocate Sheraz Zaka where he contended that the previous Cigh court judge had ordered for the legislation of wage rate and the working hours of the domestic help; yet no progress was made.
High court observed that:
“The rights of domestic workers have been violated ever since Pakistan came into being,”
Unlike other developed countries Pakistan still has to work on the wage structure and working hour of the domestic workers. This failure has resulted in the exploitation, harassment, maltreatment and malnutrition of these workers who already belong to the poorest section of the society.
Formation of commission
A commission has been formed including a representative of UNICEF, advocate Sheraz Zaka, Sahar Umer Ata Bandial, Ahmed Pansota and Secretary of Labour Punjab which will monitor and report the progress of government of this issue.
According to the Domestic Worker’s Bill 2018 by the Punjab Government; working hours will also be decreased to 8 hour which is a normal working shift of any employee.
What more government needs to do?
It’s very rare for parents to send their children off to these petty jobs willingly. It happens under severe financial constraints and this is where government needs to intervene.
Assist in birth control
Proper guidance should be given to couple and they should be educated to procreate according to their financial resources.
Education should be made free in schools till matriculation level and at least one meal should be given to kids belonging to underprivileged background.
Healthy activities to curb juvenile delinquency
Children belonging to lower sections of society have a greater chance of landing into criminal activities. This is what the government can address by providing healthy activities like playground and parks to these kids.
In-house domestic help to be banned
Live-in servants should not be allowed and a maximum eight hour shift should be introduced so this mindset of owning a servant can be curbed.
Before formally inducting any house help authorities should make sure they have proper information about where to head for in case of any grievance against the employer.
State should own them
Parents should not be allowed to forgive anyone who tortures the domestic help. State should appoint lawyers on their behalf and act as the complainant.
As a human being believing in equality it should not piss any one off because according to article 25-A of the constitution,education is a right of every citizen.
Child labor is banned everywhere in the developed world and it would malign Pakistan’s image internationally.