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Child domestic workers

Children in domestic work, is defined as children engaged to perform domestic tasks in the home of a third party or employer, with or without remuneration. The vast majority of the child domestic workers are girls.

Domestic work is one of the most widespread and invisible sectors for child exploitation. Many of the children involved in paid or unpaid domestic work, do so in harmful conditions. While some domestic workers are well looked after, many of them have to work extremely hard, and some children are brutally exploited. Many boys and girls are compelled to work as domestic workers and are unpaid or not paid at all. They can experience physical violence such as beatings, starvation, psychological violence such as verbal abuse and threats and sexual abuse. In many cases, children work under conditions of domestic slavery where their personal freedom is restricted or totally denied. Many are banned from attending school, or have so much work they cannot attend classes.

Save the Children works with children, families, communities and employers to remove the need for children to leave their own homes to work, to prevent the recruitment of young children to work as domestic workers into unsafe conditions in other people’s homes. Save the Children also works to ensure that informal fostering arrangements do not result in domestic slavery and sexual violence for the children concerned. The organisation also aims to establish appropriate safeguards and monitoring mechanisms that protect children employed as domestic workers and supports children who have experienced abuse while working as domestic workers.

At the same time, Save the Children recognizes that domestic work could be an important source of employment and income, especially for millions of girls. Our approach, in line with the UNCRC, therefore aims at protecting child domestic workers from harmful and exploitative work while ensuring that any interventions we support does not put them at risk of further harm or remove them from their only source of livelihood without appropriate safeguards, which would drive girls to even more harmful activities. Save the Children advocates governments and other stakeholders to adopt a similar approach.

Photo: Riccardo Venturi/Save the Children

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