Child domestic workers are large in number, yet remain invisible, unreachable and marginalized both economically and socially. The issues, challenges and exploitation that children face as domestic workers are often overlooked because the work they perform is not seen as labour. It is considered to be part of their duty to their family or part of their role as children in society to offer service when asked and without complaint. However, when a child is placed in a household to perform domestic work, then that household becomes a workplace as much as a factory is a workplace. In such situations, children are entitled to the same protection to which all working persons are entitled.
Domestic work is often believed to be appropriate and safe for children because they are doing “household chores” and are nominally part of a family. It is sometimes assumed that children will even be cared for as part of the family. In some circumstances, the possibility of access to schooling creates the perception that domestic work is an attractive and even desirable option for children.
However, many children become victims of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, where the abuse sometimes results in serious injury or even death. They suffer from a range of forms of discrimination. Many are victims of trafficking or suffer under various forms of bondage and slavery. Many are deceived or forced to work in the sex industry. They are given little or no regular days off. They are isolated from others, kept hidden, and often even denied access to their own families. They use equipment, machinery, and chemicals which they are not trained to use safely. They can be punished severely, with violence, for mistakes. They are often under the complete control of their employers whose primary concern and conduct may conflict with the best interests of the child. They generally lack access to education or are forced to drop out of school due to their heavy workload.
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