'Not even human', the plight of domestic help in Pakistan - Pakistan Today

‘Not even human’, the plight of domestic help in Pakistan

LAHORE: Hiring domestic help in Pakistan is a norm. Many families consider domestic helpers to be an essential part of their household and for many wealthy families, the number of people they hire for help is even considered a status symbol.

However what is not the norm is considering the domestic helpers as equal citizens or treating them with respect for being hard-working individuals who are trying to make an honest living

On Monday a few pictures started making rounds on social media which showed a maid being forced to sit in the trunk of a car that was parked in perhaps the most affluent of destinations in Lahore. The scene that is revealed by these pictures is truly heartwrenching and pitiful.

According to the page Khabees Orat, the young girl was sitting in the trunk of a car and despite the clear and visible discomfort she was in, her “owners” embarked on their journey without a moment’s hesitation.

“A few miles before entering the Packages Mall we encountered this car (LEB- 5313, owned by Mr. Yasir Ahmed) who had apparently made his Maid (13-14 yrs old girl) sit in the car’s trunk. As visible in the pictures, she was balancing it with her hand, for letting the air in.”

When the car reaches a checkpoint, according to the facebook page, the security guard deployed at the exit gate, instead of reprimanding the owners of the car who had forced the young girl to go through such an inhumane act, laughed out loud at the clearly missing humour of the situation.

“As they approached the checkpoint, the guard saw her, and (without inquiring the driver as to why the maid was sitting in the boot when there was enough space inside the car), he laughed. That single laugh made her so embarrassed that she closed the boot completely”.

This is not the first time the issue of abuse and belittling treatment of domestic help has been raised in Pakistan.

The case of Tayyaba, who was allegedly tortured by former additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife was another sorry reminder of the state of affairs of domestic help abuse in the country.

Though thankfully, the child was rescued after a suo moto notice by the chief justice of Pakistan, the case is an awful reflection of abuse that domestic helpers receive, even at the hands of the so-called custodians of justice.

However not many of the cases of domestic help abuse are highlighted in the media or come to notice of relevant authorities.

Every other day we come across pictures, where families enjoying a night out at an expensive restaurant deem it fit for their maids and domestic help (most often young adolescent children) to either stand the entire duration of the meal or are seated on the floor at a distance lest a glance at their less than happy faces ruin the jovial mood of the family

              

Pakistan is a country where wealthy families count their domestic help as the mere testament to the affluence they hold in the society. Lack of accountability laws and social security system which supervises the behaviour of homeowners towards the individuals hired for help results in cases where far more harm is done to domestic helpers than a long, suffocating ride in the trunk of a luxury car.

The full Facebook post can be viewed below.

Ayesha Bibi

The writer is a former member of the staff.



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