Child domestic workers are at risk of sexually abuse: study

DHAKA, Aug 14, 2018 (BSS/UNICEF FEATURE) – Child domestic workers are always under threat of being physically, mentally and sexually abused at their work places, says a recent study.

It reveals that employers of child domestic workers never consider them as like as their own children. As a result, they do not allow their workers to get access to education, recreation and other facilities.

Independent researcher Sharfuddin Khan conducted ‘The Perception Study on Child Labour in Domestic Work’ aiming to assess the perception of child domestic workers regarding their rights related to conditions of employment.

Identifying that child domestic work is very hazardous one, the study shows that many poor parents use their children as a source of income and send their children to domestic work without knowing or understanding its short- and long-term consequences.

Many parents have been failing to fulfill their responsibilities as parents and they simply send their children to domestic work for immediate benefits.

About the people’s perception on child labour in domestic work, the research says child labour in general is bad for the overall development of children and child domestic labour is more dangerous for them, as they are deprived of their basic and fundamental rights and often exposed to various forms of exploitation after getting engaged in domestic labour.

Majority of the child domestic workers are being forced to work for long hours and some of works they carry out beyond their physical and mental capacity. Moreover, it finds, employers and family members often torture child domestic workers for small mistakes. Many child domestic workers are getting killed by their employers and this rate is on the rise in the country.

The study says although the employers of child domestic workers make promises to children’s parents and guardians that they will provide all necessary supports to their workers, including adequate food, clothes, good place to sleep, time for leisure, opportunities for getting education, scope to watch television, monthly leave to meet parents, most of the employers fail to fulfill their promises.

While presenting the study findings at a seminar in the capital recently, Sharfuddin Khan, a former programme officer of the International Labor Organization (ILO), said although child labour is legally prohibited in Bangladesh, many children are entering into labour due to high demand of cheap child labour, including child domestic work.

He said child labour related laws are not being enforced effectively in the country and that is why anyone can employ children anytime for any type of work without any social or legal challenges.

According to the baseline survey on the Situation of Child Domestic Workers jointly conducted by the ILO and UNICEF in 2007, more than four lakh children are engaged in domestic work in the country. Majority of them are between 12-14 years while around 90 percent are girls. They are extremely vulnerable to all forms of abuse and exploitations.

There is no legal provision to protect the rights of the country’s child domestic workers. Domestic child labourers were excluded from the Labour Law 2006 (amended in 2013). Child domestic work was not considered as a hazardous one.

The government formulated the Domestic Workers’ Welfare and Protection Policy in 2015, but the policy is yet to be implemented.