LAHORE  - A housewife has confessed to police investigators that she tortured her ten-year-old maid to death at their residence in the North Cantonment area, police said on Friday.

Resident of Okara district, Erum Bibi, had been working at the house of Malik Altaf Mahmood in Askari-IX area for the last three months.

Forty-year-old Nasira Bibi told the police that she beaten the girl because she stole Rs30000 from the cupboard of her house two days ago and did not confess to the crime despite undergoing severe beating.

“I don’t know what had happened to me last night. I was very angry. I got infuriated. I had no idea that she would succumb to torture,” a police officer quoted Nasira.

Police sources said that the housewife severely tortured the girl after tying her hands and feet with a rope.

The underage domestic worker was kept in the servant quarter for more than 48 hours where she was subjected to severe torture. As her condition deteriorated late Thursday night, she was rushed to the Services Hospital where she was pronounced as “brought dead.” The body was removed to the morgue for autopsy to ascertain the cause of death. The killer claimed that her housemaid frequently used to steal cash from her house during routine working. She further admitted that she often used to beat her because of her misdeeds.

“There were severe torture marks on the body. Apparently, it seemed that the girl was mercilessly beaten with a piece of water-pipe,” said a police investigators who examined the body at the city morgue.  Police took immediate action and arrested the housewife, her husband Altaf Mahmood and son Abrar after registering a murder case against them on the complaint of Zubaida Bibi, mother of the deceased.

On Friday afternoon, Nasira told the investigators she had committed the crime alone and her son and husband were innocent. However, till Friday night the police did not release the man and his son.

The youngest of five, Erum, had been working on Rs 2500 per month salary. Her father died a couple of years ago.

According to a report, since January 2010 to June 2013 at least 41 cases of domestic child workers are reported. Of these children, 19 died due to severe torture inflicted on them by their employers.

In Pakistan, such kids are deprived of all fundamental rights given in the constitution (Articles 11, 25 (3), 25A) and even the right to life, merely for the reason of protecting household sanctity. The government cannot bring in these children in the ambit of labour laws because households cannot be monitored; if monitored, the household sanctity would be violated.

The country acknowledges and prohibits forced labour, external trafficking, slavery, and worst forms of child labour only in documents but has not been able to take any administrative measures to ban underage domestic workers to stop brutal torture and murders which are majorly girls.  Four year ago, the death of a Christian girl, also a domestic worker, in Lahore had sparked countrywide protests amongst the Christian community.

Shazia Bashir died on January 22, 2010, with initial reports indicating that she had been badly beaten and suffered possible sexual abuse. The case gained a lot of media attention because of the apparent brutality of her murder and several human rights and minority activists rallied around her.

The 12-year-old Christian girl’s employers – former Lahore Bar Association president Advocate Muhammad Naeem and members of his family – were arrested and tried for her murder, but were acquitted by the courts as a medical report indicated that she had died of natural causes.