ISLAMABAD - Reacting to the recent case of Shan Ali - an 11-year-old domestic worker who was tortured to death by his employers - Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) has urged all provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory Administration to take immediate steps to notify Child Domestic Labour (CDL) in the schedule of banned occupations under the Employment of Children Act (ECA) 1991.

A statement issued Friday by the organisation said ‘It is being observed that every fourth house in Islamabad employees a child as domestic servant.  These children are brought from poor parts of the country like Rahimyar Khan and Multan to serve as domestic servants’. 

A statement termed Shan another addition to the count of the child domestic workers who were tortured to death by their employers in the country. The FIR of the case has been registered and accused employers have been arrested by the police in Islamabad.  SPARC has strongly condemned the incident and has demanded both the federal and provincial governments to take solid measures to check growing violence against child domestic workers and respond to the situation by notifying Child Domestic Labour in the list of banned occupations under the Employment of Children Act 1991.

The torture to death of 11-years-old Shan is the 16th such case of murder of child domestic labourers reported in the media since January 2010 starting from the death of Shazia Masih.  Other cases were reported in which children received lifelong injuries as a result of torture meted out by their employers.  “This shows that how hazardous child domestic labour is,” said the statement.

Sparc regretted that despite the outrage following Shazia Masih’s case in Lahore, other innocent lives continue to be affected by the heinous practice of Child Domestic Labour.

“This is largely the result of impunity with which employers exploit and abuse children working in their homes.” In most cases, the perpetrators are never brought to justice and victims or their families are pressurised into settling out of court.  SPARC hopes that the effective implementation of the constitutional provision (Article 25-A) about free and compulsory education for children of five to 16 years could also be a good preventive step.

After the 18th amendment, ECA 1991 has to be adopted by the provinces and the federal capital before June 30, 2011 and except Punjab none of the Administrative Block including Islamabad Capital Adminstration has not adopted the Employment of Children Amendment Act.