ILO calls for end to child labor in domestic work

Published on XinhuanetEnglishNews, June 12, 2013.

The International Labor Organization ILO called for an end to child labor in domestic work and adequate protection of young workers against abusive working conditions in its latest report released Tuesday. The annual report for the occasion of the World Day Against Child labor on June 12 brought the public’s attention to children working in “domestic work.”

Domestic work is defined by the ILO as the work performed in or for a household or households, while domestic worker means any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship.

Statistics of the new ILO report showed that an estimated 15.5 million children (i.e. below the age of 18) were involved in paid or unpaid domestic work in the households of a third party or employer other than their own families, carrying out tasks such as cleaning, cooking and looking after other children, the sick and the elderly.

Of these children, about 10.5 million were in child labor either because they were below the legal minimum working age or were working in hazardous or even slave-like conditions, among whom 6.5 million were aged between 5 and 14 years old, and more than 71 percent were girls, as the report noted.

Constance Thomas, director of the ILO International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC), told a press conference that those were a significant group and the situation of their vulnerability did deserve special attention.

“We know that they are vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual violence and abuse; They are isolated from their own families; They are hidden from the public eye by the nature of where they are working. We have evidence that some do end up becoming commercially or sexually exploited,” Thomas stressed.

The ILO underlined in the report that the hidden nature of child domestic work often left the issue overlooked, saying that in many countries it was not recognized as a form of child labor due to an ambiguous relationship with the employers: the child lived in a family setting and worked, but was neither regarded as a worker nor treated as a family member … //

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