An 8-year-old girl illegally employed as a maid has been killed by her employers in Rawalpindi, Pakistan for letting their pet parrots escape, police say.
On Sunday, the child, named Zohra, opened a parrot cage to feed the birds but they flew away, according to Rawalpindi police superintendent Zia Uddin.
As punishment, Zohra’s employers, who run a business buying and selling animals, beat her unconscious before abandoning her at a local hospital, where she died on Monday.
The hospital called the police, and two suspects have now been arrested, Uddin said.
An initial police investigation, known locally as a first information report (FIR), said: “The victim was brought to the hospital and was still alive. She had injuries on her face, hands, below her rib cage and legs. She also had wounds on her thighs, which suggested that she might have been sexually assaulted.”
Police have been allowed to detain the suspects on remand for three days while they investigate and gather evidence about the allegations in the FIR.
They have sent samples for forensic examination and are currently awaiting results.
The suspects will not be formally charged until the investigation has been completed.
Zohra was employed to look after the family’s toddler, and in return they offered to paid for her education, Uddin said.
Pakistan has a huge problem with child labor, according to a 2018 report by the Human Rights Commision of Pakistan (HRCP), which estimated that some 12 million children were working in the country.
While Pakistan does not have a national legal minimum age for employment, the law prohibits minors from working as domestic servants.
The mistreatment of underage domestic workers has hit the news before.
In June 2018, a judge and his wife from Islamabad were sentenced to three years in prison and a 500,000 rupee (around $3,000) fine each for keeping a 10-year-old child maid in illegal confinement, burning her hand when a broom went missing, hitting her with a ladle and threatening her, according to the HRCP.
Other cases include an 11-year-old maid, who was allegedly clubbed and burned by her employers, the organization said, adding that these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.