A girl carries a basket of recyclable material as she works scavenging in the garbage dump at Bantar Gebang, Indonesia (File photo)
A U.S.-based rights group says children in Indonesia employed as domestic workers are being routinely abused and exploited. The group is urging the government to acknowledge the problem and implement regulations.

A Human Rights Watch report says the majority of the nearly 700,000 child domestic workers in Indonesia are sexually and physically abused by their employers, while being forced to work long hours with little food and next to no pay.

Sahr MuhammedAlly, author of the report, says the government has ignored the problem, and must start implementing regulations to protect the children, many of whom are as young as 12.

"One of the first steps the government has to do is to pass some regulation, which regulates the working hours of domestics - regulating an eight-hour work day, minimum wage, a weekly day of rest," she said. "The government should be enforcing a minimum age of employment of 15."

Most of the 19 Indonesian officials Human Rights Watch interviewed for the report acknowledged that some abuse takes place, but claimed it is limited to a few isolated cases, and does not require changes to the laws.

The overwhelming majority of child workers are young girls, who are often lured from rural villages to the cities with promises of high paying jobs.

Most of these children's parents are poor, and see domestic work as a way out of poverty, unaware of the dangers their children are facing.

Ms. MuhammedAlly says it is imperative the government begin a campaign to educate parents and the public. "We have said that there should be some sort of awareness campaign, so that domestic workers know what their rights and obligations are," she said. "The government should enact some regulations where there are effective complaint mechanisms for kids and domestic workers to report cases of abuse."

The report says it will be hard to eradicate the abuse, but called on the government to enact basic labor standards.