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Saturday, 11 January 2014

The Pakistani servant girl tortured to death

Poor little girl!

The case of a 10-year-old girl in Pakistan's Punjab province, whose employers confessed to beating her to death last week, has highlighted concerns about child rights. The BBC's Saba Eitizaz reports on a case that shocked the nation.

Iram is believed to have suffered a horrific death

Human rights organisations argue that Pakistan's labour laws ignore child abuse in a country where almost half the population is under the age of 18. It is an oversight which often has tragic consequences.
Evidence of that can be found in a small village in the province of Punjab, where a haunting wailing echoes off the crumbling mud walls of a ramshackle home.
It sounds like many mothers crying for lost children.
It is called the "wayne" - the song for the dead and is an integral part of the local funeral ritual.
Tortured
The village is called Moza Jindraakha which means "the place where life is protected".
Nasira Mahmood
Nasira Mahmood has confessed to repeatedly beating the child with the pipe while her 16-year-old son stood by and watched
But things are different now - a young girl's death is being mourned.
Iram Ramzan was sent to Lahore to cook for a middle class family - so her own family could eat. Her two sisters are also employed as domestic helps for different families.
But Iram came back in a white shroud - apparently tortured to death by her employers.
Her mother Zubaida Bibi, who has lost her hand in a threshing accident, faced the prospect of bringing up three young daughters without a husband's financial support.
Zubaida says that she had little option but to send her daughters out to earn money as domestic servants.
She thought they would be safer in more affluent homes rather than on the streets. But she was wrong and has had to go through the torture of burying her youngest child - and now she does not know where to bury her guilt.
"Maybe we should have begged for scraps instead," the inconsolable mother laments. "How was I to know I was sending my daughter to her tormentors?"
Last year Iram's family was telephoned by a distant uncle in Lahore telling them to rush to the hospital.
'An accident'
Doctors said she had died on arrival. There were torture marks on her body and rope burns on her wrists and feet.
Her employers, the Mahmood family had brought her in. The police immediately took the family into custody.
The girl had been beaten to death with an iron pipe, which was later found in the Mahmood's home, along with the ropes used to tie her up.
Nasira Mahmood has confessed to repeatedly beating the child with the pipe while her 16-year-old son stood by and watched.
In jail, Mrs Mahmood is having tea and biscuits. She is almost casual when asked why she did it, saying it was all an accident and that no one expected Iram to die.
"Three times she stole money from me. I got angry, that's all," she says. "She said she was getting sleepy so I tied her up and left to make dinner."
'Indications of beating'
Police investigators say that Iram died slowly, not accidentally and breathed her last while still tied up.
From BBC News

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