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Tuesday 26 January 2010

Shazia Bashir child labour victim (RIP)

The family of the deceased Shazia Bashir has been joined by worldwide Christian-rights activists in their condemnation of the killing of the innocent 12-year old Pakistani Christian girl Shazia.

Shazia was brutally murdered by her employer Mohammad Naeem, who took her after a sordid ordeal of rape and torture. Remarkably the Government of Pakistan spoke out against the atrocity after the country’s leading news channels broke the news story during prime time.

Khalid Shahzad - General Secretary of the Forum of Minorities, who first attended to the victim's family's call for help informed us of progress:

"President Asif Ali Zardari ordered Punjab’s senior minister Raja Riaz to take matter in his hands and announced a compensation of Rs. 0.5 (5 Lakhs) for the suffering family.
Punjab’s chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry and urged Lahore police to register a case against the culprit Mohammad Naeem, who himself is a lawyer of Lahore High Court by profession."

The teenage Christian Shazia a resident of Islamia Park, Samanabad, Lahore was found dead after alleged rape by attorney Mohammad Naeem. Shazia was working as a resident domestic worker within his residence number AA-444 Defense, Lahore.

It has been reported that Shazia was not paid for her domestic work for over 8 months. Informants have stated that often the family provided her with little food (often none) reducing her to a very emaciated physical state. Moreover, in the recent aberrantly cold winter, Shazia was washing their cars with cold water.

Her daily duties included washing clothes, sweeping, dusting and cleaning the entire large house, ironing clothes, washing dishes 3 times daily. During the evenings she was required to massage her landlords. Shazia's workload would have to be completed despite her complaints of aches, pains and bouts of illness, her parents state. She was constantly harrassed and was denied her 1000 ruppes per month salary despite frequent requests.

This whole debacle illustrates the seedy and rather contemptuous child labour exploitation in Pakistan. Pakistan is a den of horror in which people with influence can extend their power and authority over the masses of illiterate and deprived innocent victims- their only crime a life of poverty. For a few rupees and by shaking a few hands, the aristocracy find themselves able to walk free from courts, avoid investigation and able to revoke the law with consummate ease

Khalid Shazad informed us that both he and the parents of Shazia received messages from the imprisoned Mohammad Naeem. In those messages Mr Naeem has threatened them with retributory attacks whilst insisting that courts and lawyer community will never go against someone from their own fraternity.

Domestic workers young and old are subjected to intolerable acts of aggression, rape, abuse and torture. 80% of Christians in Pakistan are domestic workers much due to limited employment and educational opportunities. Only 8% of Pakistani Christians are literate a damning indictment in this modern world we live in. The BPCA will be raising the issue of bonded labour and Child Labour at our next meeting with the Pakistani High Commissioner.

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