2012 | Jo Becker, Human Rights Watch


“In Morocco, thousands of children – predominantly girls – work in private homes as domestic workers. Known as petites bonnes, they are often recruited from poor rural areas to work for families in the cities, cooking and preparing meals, washing dishes, doing laundry, washing floors and carpets, shopping for groceries, and caring for young children. Despite Moroccan law prohibiting the employment of children under age 15, Human Rights Watch found that girls as young as eight work long hours for little pay as child domestic workers. Some work up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for as little as US$11 per month. Some girls told Human Rights Watch that their employers beat and verbally abused them, denied them education, or refused them adequate food. Isolated in private homes and far from their families, many have no idea where to turn for help. According to government statistics, Morocco has made significant progress in recent years in reducing overall rates of child labor and increasing the number of children who attend school. Rates of child domestic labor also appear to have declined. However, existing efforts are not sufficient to address the unique characteristics of child domestic labor. Labor inspectors lack authority to access private households in order to identify child domestic workers. Criminal prosecutions against employers responsible for physically abusing child domestic workers are rare, and fines almost never imposed on employers who hire under-age children for domestic work. Lonely Servitude recommends that the Moroccan government strictly enforce laws prohibiting child domestic labor below the age of 15, expand public awareness campaigns about child domestic labor, and create an effective system to identify and remove child domestic workers who are illegally employed or subject to abuse.”