Degree of violence is rising against domestic workers in our region. An incident that made headlines, earlier this year, is the Shazia murder case, where a 12 years old Christian girl, Shazia, was brutally tortured and killed by her master Naeem, an advocate. The National Assembly observed a silence for a minute and demanded severe punishment for the accused. Shazia Masih, a poor Christian girl, was unfortunate to be a woman and from a minority religious group. These two traits made her week enough to the assault that she faced before her death. It is reported that she was allegedly tortured and later killed by Naeem. He left her dead body with her parents, saying that she died a natural death. Her case is representing the thousands of domestic workers who face violence in some form. According to a survey conducted by Alliance, in December 2007, 91% female domestic servants admitted that they face violence and exploitation of some kind. Domestic workers are not given their rights in this region; and the way they are treated, most of the time, makes one wonder if they are the slaves of modern times. There is no defined pay scale for the domestic workers. We see a number of women working in homes and paid very little for long working hours. They suffer violence and insult which mostly goes unreported. Not only women but men also face some kind of violence, like recent incident in Sukher, when two men faced extreme violence when they demanded their wages. Domestic workers are hired without any fair contract of employment or legislation. Many children, as young as 5 or 6 years old, are witnessed, working in kothis (bungalows) and sometimes, taking care of their masters child, who is older to them. This is the violation of the child labor laws, which does not allow any child younger than 15 years old to be employed. These children are taken into jobs after negotiating with their families and are not allowed to visit their parents very often. People prefer young children as servants because they can be easily manipulated and demand less amount as their salary. One the other hand, their parents leave them to bungalows because they have nothing to feed them and, of course, they cannot send their children to schools due to poverty. Children experience abuse, torture and exploitation of their rights. It is difficult for them to tell anyone about this or to report them to the police because they are too young and, sometimes, have no idea that what is going on with them. Our society needs to respect the domestic workers and to realize that they are an important part of our lives. The time has reached to acknowledge their services. Government must not allow the underage children to be employed as domestic servants and there is a need to make a law that can control human trafficking. It is the only way to avert parents from sending their children to work. KIRAN TAHIR, Lahore, October 30.