Shazia Masih
- January 22, 2010

In the picture above, Shazia Masih is a little bit younger than she was when she died at the age of only 12 years old. Shazia is from Pakistan, where it is perfectly legal for poor parents to ship their children off to do work for the rich people who live in their cities. There is no way to know how many of the children of Pakistan are working in the homes of rich people, as servants, often hired to care for the children in the homes, making only about $50, a mother to help support the families who sent them away in the first place. The people of Pakistan say it's because of the high rate of poverty and lack of laws to stop this practice:

"You can't imagine the poverty. Sometimes they come in hungry. They will do anything for work"
Muhamed Sharif - Employment Agent who got Shazia her job

Shazia was sent to work as a maid for a rich man and his wife. Chaundhry Naeem is a Lawyer who used be the head of the Lahore Bar Association. Chaundhry employed Shazia for the ridiculous sum of only $8. a month, for which she washed floors, cars and toilets and using the money to help pay off the debts of the family. Shazia's parents cleaned homes and collected trash to earn about $62. a month, not even enough to put adequate food on the table. Shazia would have earned more if the man who got her the job was not pocketing most of what she earned. Shazia was under age so she was not even a documented worker, she was basically invisible.

One day, Shazia was injured and taken to the hospital with Chaundhry saying that she fell down the stairs because she had a skin disease. He was arrested and held in Police custody while an investigation could be done. Chaundhry's Lawyer said Shazia had a skin disorder and that it was probably Scabies and she was taken to the hospital for treatment and her death certificate listed her cause of death as blood poisoning.

Nasreen Bibi, Shazia's mother had supposedly promised over and over to come and get her, but she never did because she could not afford to support her, this is a claim that Nasreen denies flat out. Nasreen said that her daughter was being abused by the family she worked for and said that a Medical Examiner's report would support what she said. In the report it is listed that Shazia had at least 17 injuries that included welling on her forehead, her cheek and her scalp which was said to have been caused by blunt force trauma. Muhamed Sharif said that abuse was not the usual treatment of the people he found jobs for and the work was better than what those who had to go work on farms would do, adding that maids were generally treated very well even though they lived a lonely life, apart from the family, using separate utensils and eating leftover food while working over 12 hours a day. That is one hour a day for every year Shazia was alive. Often the heads are shaved because of live and very few of these children are allowed to go to school.

An employee of a security agency in the same neighborhood said that he had taken five children back to their parents homes since the year 2008 because they ran away from their employers who were abusing them. Allah Wasaya, a six year old boy, claimed that his employer would hit his feet with a golf club simply for not getting his shoes for him quick enough. This employee did not approve of this kind of treatment but there was little to nothing he could do about it:

"We are not in a position to report them"

Poor people just keep getting poorer and jobs as maids were considered valuable, even when it was a child who had to take the job. It was estimated that 40% of the Pakistani people were living below the poverty level. This causes children to be forced out of school and into the work force to help support their families

Shazia's death seems to have not been in vain because with the media having more freedom, her case spread on a national level and top officials visited her family and they were given a check from Pakistan's President. Of course Chaundhry's Lawyer tried to play down what had happened saying that the media coverage had blown things out of proportion and taken a sick child and turned her into a case of an abused child"

"The media tried this case and issued its own verdict"

It was said that the real test would come when this case was tried in what was called a "weak institution", easily influenced by those who were in power:

"Our justice system operates against the underprivileged. Will there be justice? I have my doubts"
I.A. Rehman - Human Rights Activist

Reports came out later saying that Shazia worked under extremely stressful conditions and that three days before she died, Chaundhry had tortured her and had tried to have her treated medically at his home before the decision was made, days later, to take her to Lahore's Meo Hospital. Chaundhry was said to have tried to pay off her family with the equivalent of about $250. American dollars. Chaundhry and his family tried to run, but were arrested under pressures from the Federal Government.

What was being called a brutal murder, has the country in shock, but they thought for sure that Chaundhry was going to get away with what he did because the rich always seem to do what they want and get away with it. Newspapers ran pictures of Shazia, dead and lacking any evidence to support that she had a skin disease. In the pictures, Shazia's feet, skull and chin are wrapped in gauze and she looks like a little boy. Since her death, it was reported that Politicians who had been able to get away with their own crimes, were now speaking out about this little Angels  death. Hope for any justice was still barely there since so many rich people have gotten away without punishment for so many years.

Though the initial medical report on Shazia had been that her body was covered in obvious wounds caused by being beaten with a sharp edge weapon, a later medical report said that she died of an inflammatory disease in her lungs. Chaundhry was out on bail in June of 2013. Later reports say that Chaundhry, his wife and one of his sons were found not guilty in the death of this precious little Angel.
This page was created on November 7, 2014
Death occurred in Pakistan

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