06/18/2018, 08.00
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Islamabad High Court hands three years to culprits in the torture case of a 10-year-old maid

by Shafique Khokhar

The case of little Tayyaba became public in 2016. In 2017 a court sentenced the child’s employers to one year in prison. On 11 June, another Court upped their sentence to three years. For activist, “violations of children's rights are not 'news'” in Pakistan.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – The High Court of Islamabad last Monday rejected the appeal filed by the lawyers of District Court Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar to dismiss charges of torturing Tayyaba, their 10-year-old little maid.

Instead, the court confirmed the conviction for both spouses and increased the sentence to three years, in addition to the payment of two fine, one of 50,000 rupees (about US$ 420) and the other of 500,000 (US$ 4,200), to the victim.

In April, a lower court had sentenced the defendants to one year in prison, but the verdict was never enforced.

The case came to light in December 2016, when it was reported that the judge's wife had punished the child because she had lost a broom.

"While I welcome the court's decision to increase the sentence,’ activist Bilal Warraich told AsiaNews, “I am sorry that a judge (and his wife) meted out torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. In theory, they should be guardian of fundamental rights and freedoms.”

"This case is just the tip of the iceberg,” he added. “There are many others that go unreported, with poor children subjected to torture and conditions of slavery. All this speaks volumes about the failure of the criminal system in Pakistan."

According to Bilal, "legislation should criminalises child labour and child slavery. The whole nation needs to stand up and the justice system needs a complete overhaul.”

Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), laments the fact that "in Pakistan, violations of children's rights are not 'news' but common practice.” Indeed, “Rape, torture, violence, homicide, child labour and sexual abuse are on the increase due to the lack of legislation and the non-application of existing rules."

The activist notes that "every day 11 children are abused, and in the last five years we have had recorded 17,862 cases.”

Still, “The recent case in Kasur, where the lifeless body of 7-year-old Zainab was found in a landfill, has opened eyes of many: 129 cases of sexual violence against children in 2017, 141 in 2016 and 451 in 2015. Even homes, religious places, schools and workplaces are not safe for children."

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