"If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more. If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough." – Oprah Winfrey

Abuse against housemaids

Millions of women and girls around the world turn to domestic work as one of the few options available to them in order to provide for themselves and their families. Domestic workers, often making extraordinary sacrifices to support their families, are among the most exploited and abused workers in the world. Abuses against domestic workers, typically taking place in private homes and hidden from the public eye, have garnered increased attention in recent years. The long list of abuses committed by employers includes physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; forced confinement in the workplace; non-payment of wages; and excessively long working hours with no rest days. In the worst situations, women and girls are trapped in situations of forced labour or have been trafficked into forced domestic work in conditions akin to slavery. Recently, an eight-year-old girl illegally employed as a maid was killed by her employers in Rawalpindi for letting their pet parrots escape. Another housemaid in Lahore was beaten and trimmed bald by employers. So many more cases have been reported in the past couple of years. Government can no longer turn a blind eye to this matter. An appropriate legal framework is critical to protecting domestic workers’ rights. Domestic workers must have the right to a minimum wage, a weekly day of rest, maternity leave, and public holidays. Most countries around the world, however, exclude domestic work from their labour codes or provide for lesser rights. Labour legislation must be complemented by criminal laws allowing for successful prosecution of offenses such as physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, forced labour, forced confinement, and trafficking in persons. Good laws become meaningful when accompanied by public awareness campaigns, training of law enforcement, labour and immigration officials, the existence of accessible complaint mechanisms, and effective enforcement.

Muhammad Asif,

Domestic violence is not a private issue

Sadaf Zahra Naqvi, wife of journalist Ali Salman Alvi, was recently beaten to death by her husband. This is just one of the many cases of domestic violence in Pakistan seen in the past few years. Domestic violence takes place every single day, in households across the globe. People often think that it only happens in poor families, but the truth is that domestic violence affects women of all ages, classes and backgrounds. Abusive men are as likely to be lawyers, accountants and judges as they are cleaners or unemployed. Sometimes domestic violence is kept hidden, perpetrated in ways that are difficult to spot to the outside world. But sometimes domestic violence spills out into the public arena. Abusive men may humiliate their partners in front of friends and family, putting them down, belittling everything they say. Sometimes they use physical force or gestures to intimidate and control their partners in social settings. In these situations, women may try to appease their partners to defuse the situation and reduce the risk of violence. All too often, however, people respond to this type of incident by turning a blind eye. They feel uncomfortable. They don't call the police. They still regard domestic violence as a 'private' matter. The truth is that domestic violence is a massive social problem. Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law. By failing to speak out against domestic violence, we condone it. We minimise it. We give violent men social permission to continue their abuse. Domestic violence is not a private issue. It is a social issue. It is a political issue. It is a moral issue. Above all, it's a crime – a crime as serious as any other violent crime. Domestic violence affects us all. We all have a part to play in ending it.

Nabila Rehan,