Amir Khan
Amir Khan Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Islamabad: Boxing star Amir Khan is harnessing his star power to speak out against child domestic abuse. In Islamabad, British boxer of Pakistan-origin Amir Khan and his wife Faryal Makhdoom met the family of Zohra Shah — a young domestic worker tortured and brutally beaten to death by her employers in June.


“It was important for Faryal and I to see justice served. We didn’t want the family to feel pressured to accept an out-of-court financial settlement, which often happens in Pakistan. Fortunately, the family wants justice for Zohra as much as us, and their commitment to our cause is hugely important,” Amir said. The boxer and his wife, a social media influencer, have been supporting the family since, covering their basic living costs and guiding them towards earning a sustainable income.

On Friday, Amir and Faryal met Zohra’s family including her grandparents Fazal Shah and Kaneez Bibi, her mother, Samina Bibi and her paternal uncle Tariq Shah who filled in for Zohra’s father.

Two-time world boxing champion Amir Khan invited Zohra’s family to be guests of honour at Pakistan’s biggest boxing event by Amir Khan Academy to put a spotlight on child abuse protection. “I hope their attendance raises awareness around the case and reminds those in positions of power that they can make a difference,” the boxer said in a statement shared with Gulf News by Amir Khan Foundation (AKF) that helps disadvantaged children around the globe. “The world is waiting on a verdict and we want justice to be served.”

Barrister Taimur Malik of Clyde & Co, confirmed that trial proceedings in Zohra Shah’s case will commence on October 10 at the Model Court in Rawalpindi. “Despite their best efforts, the suspects in the case have repeatedly been refused bail and remain detained at Adiala jail,” he said. “It is encouraging to witness a timely police investigation.” Taimur appreciated that Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Human Rights, National Commission on Child Rights and the Ministry of Human Rights are actively pursuing steps to improve Pakistan’s legislative and enforcement framework.

Eight-year-old Zohra Shah was an unpaid domestic worker, employed at the household of a couple in Rawalpindi. Her parents sent her to the city with her aunt for the sake of better life and education. The aunt reportedly made her work for the couple who abused, tortured, and eventually killed her for freeing expensive birds from a cage.

Zohra’s death shocked Pakistan and sparked a dialogue on the inability to protect children. At that moment, Amir Khan stepped up to launch Zohra Shah Child Protection Fund in her memory and to protect countless innocent children from human rights violations across Pakistan.

The Foundation is currently working towards finding long-term solutions in collaboration with stakeholders across Pakistan and internationally. “We all feel ashamed by Pakistan’s record on the treatment of children” he said. “It is critical that we fight this evil once and for all,” Amir vowed.

The fund, which is directly supporting Zohra’s parents and four siblings, is focused on a four-pronged approach to combating child abuse and child domestic exploitation by:

1. Offering support to victims and their families through financial aid and trauma therapy.

2. Bringing perpetrators to justice through public campaigns.

3. Building a network of grassroots organisations to lobby for legislative change.

4. Financial support for projects that protect vulnerable children from child abuse.