Brutal murder of teenage housemaid Shazia Masih last week has triggered two very critical debates in Pakistan that involve treatment of minorities and child labor.
Shazia, thirteen year old girl who worked as a maid for former president of Lahore Bar Association (2005-6), Mr. Chaudhry Naeem was tortured to death in Lahore.
Shazia belonged to a Christian family living hand to mouth in Islamic Park, Lytton Road.
Shazia’s father Bashir Masih says that he was informed on Friday that his daughter was in the hospital, and she had already died when he reached there. Advocate Naeem, handed him Rs 15,000 ($200) and left, this was the price for a priceless life!
Bashir Masih further told the police that Aamanat Masih had provisioned the job of housemaid for his daughter at the residence of Naeem and he had left the girl there some seven months ago.
Shazia’s family says her body had several marks of wounds of a sharp-edged weapon, her right arm and a ribs were fractured, her skull was damaged and her nails have been plucked out.
The victim was admitted to the Jinnah Hospital Lahore’s Medical Emergency on January 21, 2010. Her father’s name was registered as Ansar instead of Bshir Masih and she was shown to be of fourteen years in the admission form.
A “child” is defined in Pakistan as a person younger than fifteen and the legal minimum age for employment is 14 for shops and commerce, industry, and work at sea, and 15 for mines and on railways. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan prohibits slavery, forced labor, the trafficking in human beings, and employment of children below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or any hazardous employment.
By showing her age as fourteen, accused was trying to protect themselves from accusation of child labor
Accused also declared Shazia mentally invalid in the hospital admission forms as well.
The victim was move to Medical Unit-4 from Emergency room where she died on Friday at 2:15 pm.
Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti has said that Shazia was not only the daughter of a Christian but also a daughter of Pakistan.
“Her murderers will be brought to justice,” he said.
The Minority Affairs Minister announced Rs500,000 ($6,500) compensation each for the victim’s family on behalf of President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.
Autopsy of the victim was conducted at Mayo hospital headed by Dr.Zahid Pervaiz. According to the provisional report autopsy was conducted after 45 hours of the child’s death. Sixteen injuries including incision wounds, 13 out of which were inflicted by a rusted weapon and the rest by a sharp edged weapon were found.
According to media reports there were no signs of rape. According to the Medical Board constant physical and mental torture and malnutrition could be the cause of death. Real cause of death would be ascertained after chemical and histopathology examination.
Lahore Police did not register an F.I.R immediately, giving suspects a chance to escape.
But Sunday night Naeem Chaudry along with six other suspects were arrested in the murder case and brought at Defence-A police station. He was not handcuffed and was provided with special treatment which is not offered to ordinary citizens if there are suspect of committing such heinous crime.
Reportedly police has arrested Chaudry Naeem, his son Yasir Naeem, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, middle man Amanat and his wife, Ghafooran.
According to reports, Amanat Masih who places little kids for employment and exploitation at the houses of local elites gave police information that led to the rescure of 3 more children from Defense Colony. The recovered children were living in servitude at different homes in Lahore.
Pakistan has not ratified ILO Convention No. 138 Concerning Minimum Age for Employment.