We have a constitution that endows all citizens – regardless of their age – the right to live with dignity and the right to be protected against corporal punishment. The Article 11, 25 (3) and 25A may seem like mere numbers to the morally depraved but they, at the end of the day, claim to guarantee children and adults equal entitlement to safety and stability sans distinction. So why is it that, despite possessing the legal framework and guardian institutions, employers of children for domestic work think that they are beyond the reach of law and justice? When forty-year-old Nasira tortured ten-year-old Erum to death for not confessing that she had stolen money, did she deem her savage sense of righteousness above national law?

The problem is not just with inhumane employers like Nasira; the problem is with how we have completely forgotten the most vulnerable and perhaps the most affected people of our society – our children. From January 2010 to June 2013, there have been at least 41 reported cases of domestic child worker abuse. Of those 41 crimes, 19 children died due to extreme torture inflicted on them by their employers. Child labour in Pakistan continues without any substantial response from previous and incumbent governments. Under-aged boys and girls from abjectly poor families are perpetually entangled in a world of trafficking and employer sadism.

Political parties make grandiose vows to protect child workers from domestic abuse but when it comes to physically implementing shelter for children and an accountability system for their employers, everyone disappears. It’s a token, not a cause for political opportunists. The most distressing reality here is when we fail Erum, we fail every other child in our community exposed to the likes of Nasira. It is a shame that we are letting down our young ones.