A Pakistan couple have been arrested for allegedly murdering their seven-year-old maid after she was blamed for letting a pet bird escape, police said, the latest case of violence against child domestic workers in the country.

Hassan Siddiqui and his wife employed Zohra Bibi at their home in a middle-class suburb of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, to care for their son of a similar same age.

“The poor girl was subjected to torture by Siddiqui and his wife, who accused her of freeing one of their four pet Macao parrots,” investigating officer Mukhtar Ahmad told AFP on Thursday.

“Siddiqui kicked her in the lower abdomen, which proved fatal.”

Some 8.5 million people — including many children — are employed as domestic workers in Pakistan, according to the International Labour Organization.

It is illegal to employ anyone under the age of 15.

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, more than 500 km 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 the police.

“Violence and physical torture against children will not be tolerated,” city police chief Muhammad Ahsan Younus added.

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