Child domestic workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited groups in Pakistan. They often work long hours, face physical and sexual abuse, and have no access to education or health care. According to a 2016 survey by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), there are an estimated 8.5 million child domestic workers in Pakistan, mostly girls.
Rizwana’s Story: How a 14-Year-Old Maid Was Tortured by Her Employer
One of these girls was Rizwana, a 14-year-old who worked as a maid at the residence of a civil judge in Islamabad. She was brutally tortured by the judge’s wife, who allegedly broke her ribs, teeth, and nose, and starved her for days. Rizwana’s father filed a case against the employer, but the charges were watered down to criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement.
Who is Rizwana and What All She Suffered
Rizwana was a 14-year-old girl who worked as a domestic worker at the house of a civil judge and his wife in Islamabad. She was hired by the judge’s wife, Saumya, who promised to pay her Rs. 10,000 per month and send her to school. However, instead of fulfilling her promises, Saumya subjected Rizwana to severe physical and mental torture for over a year. She beat her with sticks, rods, and wires, burned her with hot iron, cut her hair, and locked her in a room without food or water. She also threatened to kill her if she told anyone about her ordeal.
Rizwana’s father, who lived in Sargodha, visited her occasionally and noticed her injuries, but was too afraid to confront the judge and his wife. He finally decided to take action when he saw Rizwana’s condition deteriorate and filed a complaint with the police. The police registered a case against the judge and his wife, but they were granted bail by the court.
Rizwana was taken to a hospital in Lahore for treatment, where she is still recovering from her trauma.
Celebrities Speak Out Against Child Domestic Labor
Rizwana’s case sparked outrage and condemnation from many Pakistani celebrities, who used their social media platforms to raise awareness and demand justice for her and other child domestic workers. Some of them also participated in the Aurat March (Women’s March) in 2018, where they wore masks of Qandeel Baloch, a social media star who was killed by her brother in 2016 for challenging patriarchal norms.
Here are some of the celebrities who have spoken out against child domestic labor in Pakistan:
- – Mahira Khan: The actress and UNHCR goodwill ambassador tweeted: “How many more children must we lose before we put an end to this madness? How many more times will we fail our children? #JusticeForRizwana”. She also shared a video of Rizwana’s father narrating his ordeal and urged her followers to sign a petition calling for justice.
- – Hamza Ali Abbasi: The actor and activist posted a video on Facebook, where he criticized the legal system for failing to protect child domestic workers and called for a ban on child labor. He said: “We need to make sure that no child under the age of 18 is allowed to work as a domestic worker in any household. This is slavery, this is exploitation, this is torture”.
- – Armeena Khan: The actress and human rights advocate tweeted: “This is heartbreaking. I can’t even begin to imagine what this poor child went through. How can anyone be so cruel? #JusticeForRizwana”. She also shared a link to a report by SPARC on child domestic labor in Pakistan and urged her followers to read it.
- – Osman Khalid Butt: The actor and writer tweeted: “A civil judge & his wife tortured their 14-year old maid so brutally she lost consciousness multiple times. They broke her teeth & nose. Starved her for days. And yet they walk free today. Where is the justice? Where is the humanity?.
- – Mawra Hocane: The actress and lawyer tweeted: “This is beyond horrific. How can anyone do this to another human being let alone a child? This is not acceptable. This needs to stop. Now. #JusticeForRizwana”.
These celebrities are not only raising their voices for Rizwana, but also for millions of other children who are trapped in domestic labor and denied their basic rights. They are using their influence and reach to create awareness and pressure the authorities to take action against this grave injustice.
Public also responded furiously and asked for strict actions against criminals. Here are few of the comments.
What do you think about their efforts? Do you support their cause? Let us know your views in the comments section below.