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Child domestic workers

Domestic work is the largest employment category for children worldwide.

While other children in the family often attend school, child domestic workers, which are mainly girls, spend their childhood and adolescence doing house work, such as such as cleaning, ironing, cooking, gardening, collecting water and firewood, looking after other children, tending animals and caring for the elderly.

Many of them work up to 18 hours a day and often are not paid; a few others receive payments, but usually very low.

Child domestic labourers are invisible and marginalised both economically and socially. While many regard domestic work as a ‘safe’ form of employment, in reality physical, verbal and sexual abuse routinely accompany this type of work. Some children are trafficked into forced labour.

Of the estimated 15.5 million child domestic workers around the world, girls far outnumber boys; however there is still a significant number of boys working as domestic workers. Many begin their working lives well below national and international minimum age norms, and more than half of all child domestic workers are considered to be in hazardous work situations.

Children begin their working lives in response to economic needs, although a number of other reasons often provide a more immediate impetus to work. Child domestic workers enter into employment because of factors such as gender and ethnic discrimination, social exclusion, lack of educational opportunities, alcoholism, domestic violence, indebtedness, rural to urban migration, and the loss of close family members as a result of conflict and disease.

Employers prefer to use them because they are usually cheaper and considered to be more compliant and easier to control.

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Cyprian, former child domestic worker, TanzaniaCyprian, 17, from Tanzania, has been a domestic worker since he was eleven.
Read Cyprian's story
©Anti-Slavery International

bonded labour in India"I escaped domestic work because of the violence of my employer’s husband."
Read Angel's story