Children in Domestic Work
- They are little girls sometimes boys- who come from villages to work and support their parents- pay back a loan- feed their siblings.
- They live in the house of the employer, away from their parents, brothers and sisters, away from their home.
- They feel lonely, fearful.
- These children have no friends to laugh and play with or to share their sorrows.
- ILO recognized children in domestic work as one of the worst forms of slavery in June 1999.
- The UN Human Rights recognized domestic work as one of the contemporary forms of slavery in 1997.
- The government estimates around 1,85,000 children are involved in domestic labor.
- …are invisible because each child is separately employed and works in the seclusion of a private home.
- They do not exist in a group and are difficult to reach and count. They are hidden and silenced behind closed doors.
- Their job is invisible as domestic work belongs to the informal sector and is not considered as work.
- About 90% of them are girls.
- They are either live-in (full time) or part-time workers. Most child domestic workers are live-in.
Features that distinguish child domestic work from other forms of labor
- Many child domestics do not handle their earnings; some are unpaid, the earnings of others are commonly given to their parents
- The live-in child domestic workers are under the exclusive control of the employer/s; they have little or no freedom or free time
- Since its possible for very young children to undertake light household tasks, the age of entry can be as young as five
- Domestic work is among the lowest status, least regulated and poorest remunerated
- Their powerlessness within their household renders them vulnerable to verbal, physical and sexual abuse
- The live-in child domestic worker is cut off from her own family, has little opportunity to make friends, and almost no social exchange with peers
Read more on Child Labour Act
The implications of being a child domestic worker
- Respect for identity, self-hood and freedom: The younger the child starts work as a domestic, the greater the risk to her sense of identity. The labels ‘servant’, ‘maid’, used to describe child domestic workers have proved to be significant in reinforcing their low self-esteem.
- Parental nature and guidance: Removal from the nurture of the family has equally profound implications for the child.
- Physical well-being: accusations of laziness or bad work are often behind violent incidents against domestic workers. Accidents are also a risk, especially when the child is exhausted, also there are hazards associated with cooking, boiling water, chopping vegetables, using chemical cleaning fluid and carrying heavy items.
- Educational development: Lack of schooling not only reduces skills, but limits personal development.
- Psycho-social and emotional development: Confinement to the house, lack of interaction with peers, recreation non-existent, no time to play and having to adopt varied roles and personalities within the household can psychologically and emotionally wreck the child. The child lives daily with a risk of sexual or physical abuse.
Their rights are being violated
- …the right to be cared for by his/her parents (Article 7).
- the right to education (Article 28).
- the right of a child separated from his/her parents to maintain regular contact with them (Article 9).
- the right to be brought up by parents or guardians whose basic concern is the best interest of the child (Article 18).
- the right to protection from physical or mental ill-treatment, neglect or exploitation (Article 19).
- the right to conditions of living necessary for the child’s development (Article 27).
- the right to protection from economic exploitation and from performing any work that interferes with her education or is harmful to her mental, spiritual or social development (Article 32).
- the right to be protected from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (Article 34).
- the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of liberty (Article 37).
- the right to rest, leisure, play and recreation (Article 31).