The recent distressing incident in Khairpur district, Sindh, in which a 10-year-old domestic worker mysteriously died, serves as a haunting reminder of the broader issue of child rights violations in the field of domestic work. The incident unfolded within the confines of Pir Asad Shah Jilani’s Haveli, where Fatima was employed as a domestic worker. Initial findings revealed shocking details — CCTV footage depicted a visibly distressed Fatima with marks of torture on her body.

The tragic fate of Fatima is far from isolated. Case after case of child domestic workers facing exploitation, abuse, and even death have come to light recently, which emphasise the gravity of this deep-rooted issue and underscores the urgent need for comprehensive legal and social reforms. It is disheartening to witness the inconsistent responses from both families and law enforcement in these cases. The conflicting accounts, along with reports of police silencing the victim’s relatives, highlight the complexity of addressing child rights violations within domestic work. These underage children are often left voiceless and unprotected. The brutal monsters who commit such acts should be put behind bars after thorough investigation. However, reactive measures are simply not enough and a proactive approach is necessary to prevent future tragedies. Strengthened legal frameworks, enhancing enforcement mechanisms and initiating awareness campaigns are essential components of a collective response to protect child domestic workers.

As society grapples with these painful realities, it is imperative to consider the broader context. Poverty, lack of education and societal attitudes contribute to the exploitation of children in domestic work. The system must be transformed through education initiatives, targeted support for families and stringent penalties for those who perpetrate abuse. Furthermore, international cooperation is crucial in tackling the issue, as it often transcends national borders. Governments must unite to combat child trafficking and ensure that children who have faced exploitation are provided with support and rehabilitation.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2023.

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