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New York, 11 June 2013: World Day Against Child Labour shines spotlight on plight of domestic workers

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2469/Kamber
A girl carries a bowl on her head in the Marché Forum in Adjamé, a poor quarter in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Hundreds of children work at the Marché Forum, selling produce or carrying customers’ goods. Most are girls between 8 and 16.

By Chris Niles

World Day Against Child Labour is observed 12 June. This year’s theme is on the plight of the domestic worker.

NEW YORK, 11 June 2013 – On World Day Against Child Labour, UNICEF shines a spotlight on the shocking extent of the abuse of children who work in hazardous or exploitative conditions.

UNICEF estimates that nearly one in six children aged 5–14 are engaged in child labour in the world. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 7.4 million children in the same age group are domestic workers.

The plight of the domestic worker is the theme of this year’s World Day Against Child Labour, observed 12 June.

UNICEF acknowledges that, across the world, millions of children work to help their families, but this work becomes unacceptable when it the children are too young, are abused or exploited – and when they should instead be in school.

© UNICEF/BANA2012-00210/Khan
Masud, 10, works under hazardous and unhealthy conditions at a garbage dump in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Child labour in Bangladesh is a concern, owing to rapid urbanization and population growth.

“We are not so naïve as to say that children shouldn’t work,” said UNICEF Chief of Child Protection Susan Bissell. “However, when children are forced into the most dangerous forms of labour, when they then miss school, when they are at risk and their health and well-being are impaired, they must be taken out of such situations.” 

The ILO has released a report Ending Child Labour in Domestic Work and Protecting Young Workers from Abusive Working Conditions, which says that that millions of children, mainly girls, are either below legal working age, work in hazardous conditions or work in circumstances that amount to slavery.

It says that domestic workers are among the most exploited and abused, and because many children who work as domestics also live with their employer, it makes them highly vulnerable to violence sexual abuse and trafficking.

UNICEF supports the ILO Convention 189 on Domestic Workers, which was adopted in 2011. It was a landmark treaty for women and girl domestic workers. Uruguay, the Philippines and Mauritius were the first to ratify it. Another 20 countries have begun the process.

“Many children hardly know the joy of play,” Ms. Bissell said. “Their futures and society’s prospects would be greatly improved if they got the help they need to develop, to be kept safe and to enable them to become children again.”

 

 

 

 

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UNICEF defines child labour as work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work.

Ages 5-11: At least one hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week.

Ages 12-14: At least 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week.

Ages 15-17: At least 43 hours of economic or domestic work per week.


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