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Having Child as a Domestic help is much more than a Human rights violation!

13 Jun 2015


India is considered as the second most populous country in the world after china (consisting of 1.28 billion population). It has 4.35 million children working under age group of 5-14 years (as per Census 2011).

Child who starts to work at an early age with a motive to earn a daily living is termed as child labour. A Child is defined as a person below 14 years (Census of India) while UNCRC define child as person below 18 years of age. Not only in our country but worldwide child labour has been perceived as a serious issue. It is estimated that there are 351.7 million child labourers worldwide (International labor organization, 2008). For decades, its negative impact on our society has been discussed by researchers, scholars, and policy and decision makers.

Child labor deprives child of his/her childhood, ambition, dignity and self esteem. It causes detrimental effects to his/her intellectual, social, and emotional development.

Child labor is still present worldwide due to poverty, lack of schooling and family engagement in earning daily needs. Child labor forces a child to participate in economic activities related to commercial agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, mining, domestic service, drug trade, prostitution, and recruitment for armed forces. Engagement in these activities poses high risk to their physical growth and social development. Such activities are not only dangerous in nature but are exploitative as well. They tend to have adverse effect on child’s psychosocial development.

Here, we are going to specifically focus our attention on discussing the impact of child labor specifically in the form of domestic help on psychological wellbeing of the child. Families or private homes employ young children specifically girls (5 to 6 years) for domestic help. These children suffer:-

  • Humiliation
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical abuse from their employers end

Because of their immaturity, inexperience, inappropriate judgment and decision making in assessing the task related risk (International Labor organization, 2004). Moreover in terms of exploitation they are provided insufficient pay, long hours of work and lack of education which can possibly undermine their self esteem and dignity. They often become victims of physical, emotional and sexual abuse leading to mental health problems specifically related to emotional disorders.

 It was found in a study that disorders were more common in domestic child laborers than in non laborers and other categories of labourers (Atalay. A, Ababi. Z etal., 2006). They explained that it was due to the following reasons

  • Control exercised by the employer
  • Lack of freedom and free will.

Another study conducted in columbia highlighted high exploitation among domestic child laborers working more than 50 hours a week on average.

Study conducted in kenya showed that 90% of children working as domestic workers suffered from following problems

  • Severe emotional distress
  • Withdrawal and regression
  • Premature aging
  • Depression
  • Low self esteem.
  • Sleep problems
  • Exhibited phobic reactions to employers
  • Exhibited behaviours not consistent with their chronological age.

 Hence, considering the rise of emotional and psychological disturbances among child labourers, it is imposed on us as members of society to start valuing human life, its potential and its freedom to pursue its own interest.

Therefore, it is of our utmost interest to eradicate this evil from our society. We need to join our hands in bringing change in the way our society is treating our young children. Some of the ways by which we can help are

  • Promoting research based activities will help in deepening our knowledge and understanding related to child labor.
  • Raising awareness among people by giving publicity to the act with the aim to modify their attitudes and beliefs related to domestic child workers
  • It is important to enforce and bring the child labor act 1986 into action (that states banning of child labor)
  • Government needs to take active role in establishing continuous monitoring of employers who violate the act
  • Taking the support of employers of child domestic workers in movement against child labor
  • Taking support of  child domestic workers in reforming the society
  • Making education in schools affordable to all children so they do not fall into the trap of child labor and have a better future

As it is rightly said a “person is a person, no matter how small”-Dr Seuss.


Tags: #stop #say no to Child as Domestic help #no abuse