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Voice for child domestic help

18 November, 2015 04:32
Voice for child domestic help

National cricketer Kazi Shahadat Hossain was denied bail and sent to jail on 13th of October, 2015 after completion of a three-day remand in the case filed for torturing his 11-year-old domestic help Mahfuza Akhter Happy. Prior to his indictment, the incident had received widespread attention through social media; the outcry subsequently led also to the arrest of his wife on charges of maltreatment of the household help.

This brings the question, what of Bithi, the child household help from Satkhira? Memories of the readers must have faded away since the news got published in The Daily Star on August 21, 2015. The accused judicial magistrate of Satkhira was stripped of his powers after a 10-year-old girl who bore marks of injuries was rescued from his residence. Is stripping of judicial power enough?

As appeared in the media, while working in the house of a Judicial Magistrate in Satkhira, the child apparently endured great physical and mental torture but her ordeal only came to light when she was found crying for water from the balcony of the house. Police later rescued her with the help of locals and found that different parts of her body bore many marks of injuries, including burn and beating. Child domestic helps are most vulnerable groups of extreme poor and they are often denied access to justice. This girl from Satkhira is no exception.

The accused, however presented a different version of the story. He claimed that the marks resulted from a fall on the bathroom floor and electrocution. Even if the statement is correct, isn't he guilty of criminal negligence?

Moreover, there is an apparent violation of directives provided by the High Court Division in Writ Petition No. 3598 of 2010. A bench comprised of Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif directed: “In order to make the provision and concept of compulsory primary education to be meaningful, we direct the government to take immediate steps to prohibit employment of children up to the age of 12 from any type of employment, including employment in the domestic sector, particularly with the view to ensuring that children up to the age of 12 attend school and obtain the basic education which is necessary as a foundation for their future life.”

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