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Ethiopia: Researchers highlight ordeals of child domestic workers

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by IDWFED published Apr 01, 2013 12:00 AM
The International Labor Organization estimates show that around 215 million children below the age of 18 are subjected to different kinds of labor. Many of the these children are involved in child domestic service. While the majority of these child and domestic workers are found in urban areas, they mostly originate from rural areas. Researchers say that most these adolescent workers are female and poorly or not educated at all. "We need to think of regulation of how much is acceptable at what age, what should be forbidden. And this is not only in Ethiopia but in many other African countries," said Alula Pankhurst, Director of Young Lives.

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The International Labor Organization estimates show that around 215 million children below the age of 18 are subjected to different kinds of labor. Many of the these children are involved in child domestic service.  While the majority of these child and domestic workers are found in urban areas, they mostly originate from rural areas. Researchers say that most these adolescent workers are female and poorly or not educated at all.

"We need to think of regulation of how much is acceptable at what age, what should be forbidden. And this is not only in Ethiopia but in many other African countries," said Alula Pankhurst, Director of Young Lives.

According to International Labour Organization the nature of domestic work keeps the adolescent domestic workers hidden, invisible and inaccessible to research .Within their private workplaces many are subjected to long working hours for little pay.  A research done by Population Council in Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa has documented some confessions by such domestic workers who receive an average of 6 dollars per month yet they work for as long as 64 hours a week. Some are exposed to sexual harassment.

A 19 year old domestic worker who migrated to Addis Ababa at the age of 14 recounted her ordeal a domestic child worker.

"In a house I used to work, the guy used to nag me a lot to sleep with him. He used to talk nonsense and put on bad movies and tell me to watch. But I wasn’t interested."

Another female domestic worker aged 17, who migrated to Addis Ababa at age of 14, with no education said:

"One guy came and asked me what I was doing on the streets and I told him I had a fight with my employer and was thrown out of the house. Then he told me I should spend the night with him. I said no, and he beat me….I was sacred he might kill me. That night he forced me to have sex with him many times…."

Research shows that many well meaning employers believe that engaging girls in domestic serviceis, in fact, a service to the girls. They do not see the detrimental effects it has, their well being self esteem and overall development.

Population Council which has done similar research in other African countries says most cases are similar.

"They also are invisible, to the publics. Often when we think about supporting youth through youth programmes, these are the youth that we don’t think about," said Annnabelle Erulkar, Country Director from Population Council.

The problem of these invisible adolescents may be solved if advocacy efforts outlaw the practice where laws do not exist, ensure awareness and enforcement of laws where they exist and offer protection to these domestic child workers.


Source: Coletta Wanjohi/Press TV

Story Type: News

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