News / Asia

ILO: Millions of Children in Slave-like Conditions as Domestic Laborers

Young Indian bonded child laborers wait to be processed at a safe house after being rescued during a raid by workers from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement, at a  factory in New Delhi, India,  June 11, 2013.
Young Indian bonded child laborers wait to be processed at a safe house after being rescued during a raid by workers from Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement, at a factory in New Delhi, India, June 11, 2013.
Lisa Schlein
The International Labor Organization estimates 10.5 million children around the world are working as domestic workers in hazardous, sometimes slave-like conditions.  The ILO is marking World Day Against Child Labor June 12 by calling for action to eliminate child labor in domestic work.  

The International Labor Organization reports all regions of the world employ children as domestic laborers, often in brutal conditions.  The report finds 6.5 million of the 10.5 million child domestic laborers are aged between five and 14 years.  More than 70 percent are girls.

International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor Director Constance Thomas says children carry out a variety of domestic tasks such as cleaning, ironing, cooking, gardening, looking after other children, and caring for the elderly.

"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.  And, they can become in a state of high dependence on the family or the people in whose household they are working.  We have evidence that some do end up becoming commercially sexually exploited," said Thomas.

Thomas describes the situation of many domestic workers as a serious violation of child rights.  She says the conditions under which they work are appalling, with long hours and no time for rest or leisure.  She says many are exposed to toxic chemicals, carry heavy loads, and use dangerous tools like axes and knives.  She says the children often are underfed, receive humiliating and degrading treatment and suffer verbal and sexual abuse.

The International Labor Organization reports overall 215 million children under age 18 work, many full-time.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in four children aged five to 17 work, compared to one in eight in the Asia Pacific region and one in 10 in Latin America.  

Thomas says many children in Africa work in some of the worst forms of child labor, but some countries, such as Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania are making very good progress in ending some of the most hazardous types of child labor.

"We have some good examples of some great, great progress.  Ghana right now has a huge program addressing child labor in agriculture, in fishing and in domestic work.  But they are calling on more action because domestic work is one of those that is going to be the hardest to root out because it is hidden-very much because it is hidden," she said.

The ILO says child domestic work is not recognized as a form of child labor in many countries because of the blurred relationship with the employing family.  But the ILO stresses the child is not treated like a family member.   It adds the hidden nature of domestic work makes it difficult to protect the child.

The report calls for better data collection and is also pressing governments to ratify and implement two ILO Conventions that deal with the minimum age for employment and the worst forms of child labor.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid