The victim was allegedly beaten up and burnt by her employers—a district judge and his wife.
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered police to find a 10-year-old maid who was allegedly tortured by her employers, and demanded a full investigation into a case that has spotlighted rampant child labor in the country.
The case has shocked many in Pakistan after social media images allegedly showing injuries to the girl’s face and hands went viral. The child was reportedly employed by a district judge in Islamabad and initially told police she’d fallen down the stairs and burnt her hands by accident, Pakistani media reported.
But in a later statement she said that she was beaten and that her hands were burned on the stove by the judge’s wife, reports have said, citing police.
According to English daily Dawn, authorities then placed the girl into a women’s shelter. But on Tuesday the child’s father told authorities he forgave the judge and his wife, and that his daughter’s story was untrue, so no charges were brought, the newspaper reported.
The girl’s parents were then reported to have taken her from the women’s shelter and disappeared with her.
The widely publicized images of her injuries caught the attention of the Supreme Court, which issued a motion initiating a legal case. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar demanded the child be found and a full investigation held by next Wednesday.
Current figures detailing the precise scale of child labor in Pakistan are not available. The last official national survey was carried out in 1996, and put the number of working children at 3.3 million. According to Human Rights Watch, approximately 13 percent of children aged 10 to 14 in Pakistan are engaged in child labor.
There are no surveys on domestic child labor specifically, but Islamabad-based child rights NGO Sparc [Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child] estimates that some 15.5 million children are involved in domestic work.