In a shocking incident of violence against domestic helps, a minor Pakistani girl died after she was brutally beaten by her employers for inadvertently setting their pet parrots free while cleaning the cages.
The inhuman act has sparked an outrage across Pakistan with people, including politicians, on Wednesday demanding justice for the eight-year-old girl.
Zahra, who was a domestic help in a couple’s household in Rawalpindi, was brought to the city-based Begum Akhtar Rukhsana Memorial Hospital on Sunday in an injured state by her employer. However, she soon succumbed to her injuries, police said.
The couple was arrested the same day and remanded to police custody till June 6.
Officials from the Rawat police station said Zahra’s employer has admitted that he and his wife had beaten the child in a fit of rage after she inadvertently let their “expensive pet parrots escape from cage”.
According to the first information report (FIR) registered in the Rawat police station, the girl had injuries on her face, hands, below her rib cage and legs. The FIR stated that she also had wounds on her thighs which suggested that she might have been sexually assaulted. Police have sent samples for forensic examination to confirm if an assault took place and are yet to receive a report.
Zahra hailed from Punjab’s Kot Addu city and was employed by the couple four months ago to take care of their one-year-old child, police said.
When employing her, the couple had promised to provide her an education, the girl”s relatives said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said her ministry is following the case.
“Our lawyer is following the case. Husband & wife on four day remand,” she tweeted.
Reacting to the incident, Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Sherry Rehman said child labour “has to stop”. Another PPP leader Sharmila Faruqi also condemned the incident, saying that the “barbarity” of the crime is “sickening”.
Violence against domestic helps are common in Pakistan. According to a report in The News International, in 2019, the battered body of 16-year-old domestic worker Uzma Bibi was found dumped in a canal. Her employer was later charged with murder. In 2017, a popular TV presenter was charged with forcefully detaining her teenage maid.
On December 29, 2016, Tayyaba, a 10-year-old domestic help, was recovered from the house of a judge after receiving complaints of torture from neighbours. The issue sparked outrage on social media and led to calls for strict and swift justice.
The additional district and sessions judge, Raja Khurram Ali Khan, and his wife Maheen Zafar were convicted for torturing the maid and jailed for three years. Later the Supreme Court curtailed the sentence to one year. They were released after completion of their one-year sentence.