Zohra Shah: Pakistani girl, 8, killed after freeing expensive parrots from cage

Zohra Shah: Pakistani girl, 8, killed after freeing expensive parrots from cage
Zohra Shah: Pakistani girl, 8, killed after freeing expensive parrots from cage

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A girl, 8, was tortured to death in Pakistan after accidentally freeing expensive parrots from their cage.

Zohra Shah, an unpaid domestic worker, was killed in the affluent neighbourhood of Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s fourth-largest city.

The incident stirred debate on Twitter on Wednesday where many people, including politicians, demanded justice for the girl.

After allegedly committing the violence, her employers took the girl to hospital, where staff confirmed signs of torture.

Police said on Monday they received information that Zohra succumbed to her injuries after receiving treatment at the city’s Begum Akhtar Rukhsana Memorial Hospital.

On Monday, one of the employers confessed to police that his wife beat Zohra because she freed the pet parrots.

The girl came from Muzaffargarh, a district in southern Punjab about 580 kilometres from the capital Islamabad.

Zohra was hired four months ago as a domestic worker to the family of Hasan Siddiqui and his wife Umm Kulsoom.

The victim’s family sent the girl to live and work for good education.

“We have arrested the couple and they confessed to their crime and were sent on remand for four days until June 6," police officer Mukhtar Ahmed, who investigated the case, told The National.

"Siddiqui kicked the girl in her private parts and there were bruises on her entire body and she was bleeding”.

Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, wrote on

that his ministry was in touch with the police, was following the case and proposed reforms to domestic labour laws.

The International Labour Organisation estimates there are at least 8.5 million domestic workers in Pakistan, many of whom are women and often children.

The plight of tens of thousands of child domestic workers in the country is alarming.

They are hired through parents on a yearly or a monthly basis and violence against them is common across Pakistan.

In January 2019, Uzma, 16, was murdered in the eastern city of Lahore by her employers for eating some of their food.

Last year, the Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Domestic Workers Act to formalise domestic labour and register employees.

But activists say the law has many flaws and needs to be addressed.

“Still large numbers of domestic workers in Punjab are not registered doing unpaid work and children are being tortured to death,” Arooma Shahzad, general secretary of the Domestic Workers Union, told The National.

"The registered domestic workers have not received any social security cards from the government. The government needs to promptly resolve their issues."

Osama Malik, a labour and child rights lawyer in Islamabad, said Pakistan had ratified ILO conventions on child labour and there were local laws enacted in all provinces and territories.

"But the 2019 US State Department Human Rights Report in March this year damningly states that child labour remains pervasive, with many children working in agriculture and domestic work," Mr Malik said.

Updated: June 4, 2020 03:36 AM

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