Statement: The unending plight of child domestic workers in Pakistan

By the Child Rights Movement (CRM) Punjab, the Institute for Social Justice (ISJ), Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER)

There is no end to the plight of Child Domestic Workers (CDWs) in Pakistan. They are in thousands. They are continuously sold, exploited, abused, rapped, sodomized, tortured and killed. It is unfortunate that no other occupation in Pakistan has resulted deaths of children than Child Domestic Labour (CDL). Since January 2010 to June 2013, about 41 cases of CDWs are reported in the media and by civil society organizations. Of these children, 19 died due to severe torture inflicted on them were poisoned to death by their employers. This brief paper shows the severity of the issue and general acceptance of internal trafficking, severe torture, abuse, exploitation, forced labour, slavery and murders of helpless and innocent CDWs in the society and the due permission of the State. Continuously disturbing reporting of torture and murders of CDWs indicate the moral decay of society and the state; both have allowed powerful class to brutally torture and murder children because they belong to poor, marginalized and working class families.

In Pakistan, CDWs 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, merely for the reason of protecting the household sanctity. The government cannot bring in the CDLs in the ambit of labour laws because households cannot be monitored; if monitored, the household sanctity would be violated.

Pakistan acknowledges and prohibits forced labour, external trafficking, slavery and worst forms of child labour only in documents but yet has not been able to take any administrative measures to ban CDL and stop brutal torture and murders of helpless innocent CDWs, mainly girls. Only a few civil society organizations (CSOs) have repeatedly protested and written to all the higher authorities for banning child domestic labour (CDL) by inserting it in the list of banned occupations in the Employment of Children Act (ECA), 1991, but no authority including courts took any measures to protect these millions of CDWs. Through media, a few civil society organizations (CSOs) have also brought to the attention of the UN agencies in Pakistan but all have turned a deaf ear to the issue rather seems the best allies to the powerful class.

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.

The year 2013’s theme on the international day against child labour is “No to child labour in domestic work”. Will the current government under this theme put an end to this discrimination with children? Will it protect life, security and liberty of innocent children or powerful class? Besides putting an end to the plight of CDWs, the government should pursue the cases of brutal tortures and murders of CDWs and financially and legally help victims’ families.

Please see the detailed report at The unending plight of child domestic workers in Pakistan or at