Ammara Farooq Malik Thinking about the death of poor 12 year old Christian Shazia, that sparked outrage in the media, followed by a strike call by the lawyers in support of the perpetrator and an uproar in the Sindh Assembly which too might all fizzle out if something is not done about the sorry state of affairs today, reminds one of what Martin Luther King Jr said: In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends. One wonders whether this is what Shazia would have said too had she been alive today. The question is, who are the enemies and who are the friends? The answer to which only time will tell. For now, there is no doubt that the need of the hour is a new piece of legislation to fill the loophole in Pakistans Labour Laws, which very conspicuously does not cover domestic labour and consequently is mute on the point of child domestic labour rights and liabilities. Despite several efforts in the past, including the promulgation of the Juvenile Justice Ordinance of 2000, to try to bring our system truly in line with the articles and guidelines, as laid down under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, such efforts have not been able to show much positive results. It seems that with the surge in poverty and the economy hitting rock bottom, the destination, which childrens rights activists and NGOs have been trying to reach, is moving farther and farther away from sight. This dismal picture has only one glimmer of hope, that the media should keep the story alive for as long as it is possible while civil society activists and NGOs try to get the new legislation on the point drafted and proposed to the concerned quarters. However any new law in place on the point will have no effect at all unless the mindset of the people is changed. Households employ children under the garb of 'wanting to provide better food and shelter to the child whereas underneath lies the hidden reason, which not many have the audacity to own up: People want to control their servants without too much investment and who can fall easily in the trap but children. People then exploit this vulnerability by making the child domestic servants into puppet slaves. If this control theory was not true then why do households merely not hire adult domestic servants? As opposed to an adult, a child requires more protection, more care and greater human rights. In Pakistan on the contrary, the child is given half the salary, half the rights and half the human dignity. According to Article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, the States Parties which are signatories to the Convention, must recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the childs education, or to be harmful to the childs health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. Though Pakistan is a signatory to this convention since 1990, it would be a Herculean task to expect people to follow such a law, which restricts their control over their own private affairs, unless there is a nationwide campaign to educate the people through the media and through counselling that these child helpers are no less human than the ones who employ them. And when it comes to minorities, we need to mete out a treatment of exemplary high standards so that we can hold our heads high within Pakistan as well as in the international community. Yet there are many who will keep separate utensils and dishes for their domestic help and will in fact even keep separate dishes for the Muslim and non-Muslim domestic labour. Can any number of new laws transform such people into more thinking, feeling and sensitive beings, who will not ridicule, abuse and torment the child helpers under their care? We all need to change our attitudes before any new law on the point will make any practical sense. We must keep remembering Shazias ordeal, otherwise we may be counted amongst those who stood by silently and did not help avert a similar death at the hands of 'educated people. The writer is an academic lawyer.