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Hidden Slavery: Child Domestic Workers

Hidden Slavery: Child Domestic Workers

by IDWFED published Mar 31, 2016 12:00 AM
Contributors: Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum
Study on the Situation of Child Domestic Workers in Bangladesh

Resource Type

Research reports, working paper


Executive Summary

The incidence of Child Domestic Labour is quite significant in Bangladesh as in many other developing countries. Historically more girls are employed in domestic service. Because of its nature and circumstances, CDL is susceptible to becoming a worst form of child labour. Many children in domestic labour are very young, and also the tasks they perform are difficult to monitor or regulate. Once a child is inside an employer’s home, s/he is effectively hidden from view. As a result, employers of children in
domestic service have total control over the latter’s lives. This is a high-risk situation for the child. Violence and abuse of many different kinds can take place behind closed doors, unnoticed by the outside world.

Context of this study

Since 2006, there has been no survey on the number of child domestic workers (CDW) in Bangladesh. In 2006, an ILO baseline survey found about 3.2 million child labourers in Bangladesh. Among them, 421,000 (13.16%) were employed as domestic aides, and 75 percent were girls, who were particularly vulnerable as they worked behind closed doors and it was difficult to reach them and talk to them. Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF) conducted a study on CDW1 in Dhaka City and found 78 per cent of the total CDWs were girls. The present study in 10 city locations (except Dhaka city) has found 83 percent girls. This study has been conducted as an empirical survey in major city locations having concentration of CDWs since BSAF needed a nationwide study that may support BSAF to perform its mandated roles as an advocate, policy makers to decide on where and
what to change and the NGOs to design and manage their projects focusing on the CDWs.

The workers, their families and poverty background

Child domestic workers in Bangladesh are the largest and most open yet invisible form of child labour. An overwhelming majority consists of girls. One-third of the CDWs have no education; another 50 percent educated only up to grade five. It is mostly from disorganized families that they come from. Poverty of the family in one way or the other that stands out as the most critical factor that explaining poverty besides too meager income. Poverty is the prime cause. All other causes are related to poverty. Poor parents in particular are more concerned about the security of girls when they are growing. Also having children with other’s home can reduce concern over the fulfillment of the basic needs and avoiding unwanted relationship companion at the growing age.

Absence of the main bread winner complicated by large family with children is the reason for poverty in many situations. Absence of parents is fewer (12%) than what is popularly held, cases of only mother present 24 percent and only father present 8 percent. These family situations of family affect normal family life with consequence upon the level of economic condition which at times push the child of the family being in domestic service in other’s family.


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