LAHORE: The Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) rescued a physically abused minor domestic worker late on Thursday night from her employer and also received court custody of the child.

Hadia, 10, a resident of Halloki, Kahna, was rescued after her neighbours heard her screaming in pain as her employer Zarqa Shahid beat her.

The neighbours called the child abuse helpline 1121 to complain about the incident, and the CPWB acted promptly.

Sarah Ahmed, director of the CPWB, said that they received the complaints of neighbours on their helpline and the team went to rescue the child immediately. They also filed a first information report against Zarqa Shahid and ensured her arrest according to The Punjab Destitute and Neglected Children Act 2004 and Section 328-A of the PPC.

“The child was abused, especially physically, by her employer,” Sarah told Dawn.

“She is in a much better mental state after being rescued, but physically she has several marks of abuse and torture on her body.”

The minor revealed that she had been beaten with a pan handle, a hammer, fists and kicks, as well as mentally abused. A video showed the girl’s bruises all over her body, including arms, legs and even face. A hot knife was also pressed onto her skin on her back to torture her, she claimed.

Hadia said she was not even given a proper toilet to use and had to instead go outside in the courtyard to use the gutter. She alleged that she was regularly beaten up.

According to a report filed with the Halloki police station, Muhammad Kashif had called the CPWB, saying the child, employed by a woman called Zarqa Shahid, was regularly abused and her screams could often be heard.

Sarah said that these children were the responsibility of the government as well as the CPWB and that they should be protected at all costs.

Recently, the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 was passed by the Punjab Assembly where rights of domestic workers were finally recognised, however the age limit of these workers is a lacuna not yet agreed upon by child activists.

According to the Act, children under the age of 15 years will not be allowed to work. This age limit however does not coincide with other child rights and safeguards, while the international definition of a child continues to be from five to 18 years.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019