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Study: 33% of domestic help in Dhaka are children

  • Published at 11:24 pm June 15th, 2019
Domestic help- Dhaka
A survey report released by ILO saying 33% of domestic workers in Dhaka are children File photo

Many of the children who work as domestic help are driven by poverty and hunger as they have no one to look after them, the study said.

About one third of domestic helpers who work in Dhaka are children, 5-17 years of age, according to a recent study.

Many of the children who work as domestic help are driven by poverty and hunger as they have no one to look after them, the study said.

The study, “Decent work deficit in domestic work in Bangladesh,” was conducted by the Refuge and Migratory Movements Research Unit (Rmmru) at Dhaka University (DU) for the International Labour Organization (ILO) in February this year. A total of 500 households in the Bangladesh capital were surveyed for the report released by the ILO on March 4. 

Of the surveyed households, 375 had live-in domestic help who stay at their employers’ homes full-time, while 124 had domestic help who do not stay at their employers’ homes. One domestic helper refused to answer survey questions.

Of the 375 live-in domestic workers, 124 (roughly 33%) were children.  Of the children, 15.2% were 15-17 year olds, 14.1% were 11-14 of age, and 3.7% were 5-10 years old.  

Of the 124 domestic helpers who were not live-in domestic help,  only seven (5.6%) were children.

According to the study, 10% of the female children and 1% of the male children left their homes and entered work as domestic help due to ill-treatment at the hands of stepparents.

“After my mother’s death, my father married again, a second time. My stepmother would always scold and beat me and my sister. She stopped sending us to school. Then my father sent me here to serve as a domestic helper, and my younger sister was sent to another house also as domestic help,” said one of the female children who is a domestic helper in Khilgaon.

ASM Ali Ashraf, associate professor at the international relations department of DU, and an author of the study, told Dhaka Tribune: “Those who have no other employment options become domestic helpers. Climate affected people, as well as people from haor areas (wetland backswamps) and other poorer regions of Bangladesh, comprise most domestic help, as those areas are poverty prone.

“Social norms and behaviour towards domestic child labour should be changed, to protect their rights until a complete act is implemented in this regard,” he added.

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