A Glimpse on Child Domestic Workers in Bangladesh

The best preferred domestic worker in Bangladesh is a child within 8 to 15 years in Bangladesh. Such a worker complains less, can be controlled easily and trained even more easily. They are nervous, obey well, the “master” does not really have to pay him/her a lot. Just meal thrice a day (the leftover basically), and some money (often less than $20 a month) to keep the parents pleased.

What about Schooling? – You mention. A loud laugh crashes on you ear-drums. Its absurd. Its unreal. And yes, its 2013 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

From impoverished rural areas come many impoverished children who are basically leased to homes to be working for meager amounts and live unmonitored lives. Their rights have not been implemented to a point where it can be called “protected”. We really have a long way to go.

Child labour is a matter of great concern as it is estimated that around 7.4 million children are economically active of which, around 400,000 child domestic workers (Child domestic workers) aged 6-17 years old in Bangladesh.

The study `Child domestic workers – living inside rooms and outside the law and the Role of government and civil societies’ showed that child domestic workers are often confined in a house where they are deprived from all rights. In this situation, adolescent girls aged 6-16 are the most vulnerable group. The study showed that 80% of the domestic workers are girls. They became domestic workers due to poverty; poor parents are often unable to meet family financial needs and they always do work for further income. This is often the result of a large family size, the fact that they have no land for cultivation, or sickness on the part of the main wage earner. Around 50% of children who come to cities to work as domestic workers are influenced by their parents, and the other half were engaged through a middleman.

Child domestic workers do not work in one house for a long period of time. They change households frequently due to heavy workload, bad behavior on the part of the employer, insufficient facilities and for higher wages and better benefits. These frequent changes hinder the children’s education and psychological growth. The study showed that 36% of Child domestic workers work on average 9-12 hours a day, and 30% of Child domestic workers work on average for 13-15 hrs.

One alarming finding from the study indicated that 16% of Child domestic workers work on average 16 hours a day. According to ILO convention 182, long working hours is a major indicator for the ‘worst form of child labour’. Due to long working hours, Child domestic workers are often denied an education. Despite the Child domestic workers stated interest in study and recreation, Child domestic workers have very limited opportunities to develop both mentally and physically.

Even though while the Government of Bangladesh has long acknowledged the need to address child labour and has formulated the National Child Labor Elimination policy 2010 (NCLEP) and National Children’s Policy (NCP) in 1994 to promote and protect children’s rights. The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) is working to develop a National Plan of Action to implement the NCLEP 2010.  There is still a lack of political will to implement and enforce stated policy, to successfully realize the Conventions on Child Rights and protect children working in hazardous work, especially in the informal sector.

A confusing past. A gruesome present. An uncertain future. Had I not been human ... maybe I could still have one moment of freedom. One reason to smile.

A confusing past. A gruesome present. An uncertain future.
Had I not been human … maybe I could still have one moment of freedom. One reason to smile.

Our Objective

is not to discourage children from being able to earn a living. We understand that this is a need, the country is poor and we do not have a working welfare system. Until we can ensure enough funds to facilitate what is RIGHT (a normal and secure childhood for all children), we have to manage a system which ensures safety and a scope for development for the child.

Child domestic worker abuse social ill with seemingly few catalysts for change, aided and abetted by the urban middle and privileged class’  tacit acceptance and willingness to let the practice continue.  Just like the other children growing up in the house, the child domestic worker also deserves the right to enjoy education, leisure time, nutrition, safety and a social life.

The RISE team.

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Posted in Domestic Workers

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