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Islamabad

February 11, 2017

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Speakers call for complete ban on hiring children as domestic help

Speakers call for complete ban on hiring children as domestic help

Islamabad

Speakers expressed great concern about the alarming rate of cases of abuse surfacing against child domestic workers and called for a complete ban on hiring children as domestic help.

They were speaking at a seminar organised by Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) conducted here to demand ban on child domestic labour.

The event entailed a consultative session to finalise a position paper against child domestic labour in Pakistan. The panelists at the event included; Anees Jillani, Advocate Supreme Court, Tahira Abdullah, human rights activist, Shamsun Nissa Memon, MNA Thattha, and Musarat Rafique, MNA Daddu. The event was chaired by Dr Attiya Inayatullah.

The seminar was held in the wake of rising cases of violence against domestic child servants, for which SPARC urged the government and civil society to accelerate its efforts to ensure that Domestic Workers Act becomes a reality. Currently, no comprehensive law protecting the rights of domestic workers exists, whereas child domestic labour is not specifically covered by existing child protection laws.

Moreover, there are no precise statistics regarding child labour in Pakistan, as the last national child labour survey was conducted in 1996. However, various estimates place the number to around 3.4 million, which excludes the informal sector such as child domestic labour.

During the seminar, representatives from civil society organisations gave their views regarding the current state of child domestic labourers and discussed the amendments and new laws that need to be passed to ban one of the worst forms of child labour, i.e. child domestic labour.

Executive Director SPARC Sadia Hussain expressed concern over alarming rate of cases of abuse surfacing against child domestic workers.

Anees Jillani called for much needed amendments in ECA 1991 and existing provincial laws by specifically mentioning ‘child domestic labour’ as one of the forms of hazardous labour environment. He also called for the enactment of new laws against child domestic labour and lamented the sorry state of children stuck in a life of drudgery in countless homes across the country. He hoped that this is the last time he would need to address this issue and the phenomenon of child domestic labour will be resolved for good. He mentioned that the Constitution of Pakistan has over 700,000 words and the word ‘child is mentioned only twice. Pointing towards the lack of children’s rights addressed in the apex document itself.

Human rights activist, Tahira Abdullah criticized lawmakers regarding their failure to implement Article 25A of the constitution of Pakistan, making free and compulsory education a reality for every child aged 5 to 16.

Addressing the event, Shamsun Nissa, MNA Thattha, Sindh, appreciated the recent endeavour by the Government of Sindh, which has passed the Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill and ensured that she will raise her voice regarding the absence of child domestic labour in existing provincial laws.

The chair at the event, Dr Attiya Inayatullah hoped the ongoing efforts of civil society organisations will bear fruit in curbing this phenomenon to emancipate children from one of the worst forms of child labour.

The seminar also included various children engaged in child domestic labour. One such girl, named Haleema talked about the abuse she suffered as a domestic worker herself and claimed that she worked at the same house as Tayyaba. Haleema also claimed she knew Tayyaba and ran away from her employer due to the abusive conditions. She also said she knew Tayyaba and talked about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her employer.  Sadia Hussain announced to appoint Haleema as the Child Advocacy Ambassador of SPARC.

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