Pakistani police arrest couple for 'beating' child employee to death

A Pakistan couple has been arrested for allegedly murdering their eight-year-old female domestic worker after she was blamed for letting a pet bird escape, police said, the latest case of violence against child domestic workers in the country, SIA reports citing AFP.

Hassan Siddiqui and his wife employed Zohra Bibi, 8, at their home in a middle-class suburb of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, to care for their son of the same age. "The poor girl was subjected to torture by Siddiqui and his wife who accused her of freeing one of the four pet Macao parrots," investigating officer Mukhtar Ahmad said on Thursday. The couple admitted to beating her up, the police said. "Siddiqui kicked her in the lower abdomen which proved fatal."

Zohra was taken to hospital by the couple on Sunday, but died the following day. The incident was reported to the police by staff at the hospital. The young girl's body was handed over to her parents, who live in Muzaffargarh, near the city of Multan, more than 500 kilometres away from where she was working.

Human rights minister Shireen Mazari confirmed the arrests in a tweet and said the ministry was in touch with police. Domestic workers frequently face exploitation, violence and sexual abuse, with Pakistan's patriarchal and rigid social-class structure leaving them without a voice.

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