Poverty is a principal reason why children are pushed and pulled into domestic work. However, it is not the only cause.
Conflict and natural disasters, HIV/AIDS and economic globalisation are all factors that are forcing more poverty-stricken young women and children into domestic work far from their homes.
Gender inequality means that domestic work is assumed to be a woman or a girls role and it is therefore not seen as real ‘work’. Few countries have legislation that protects domestic workers from exploitation in the workplace. Although domestic work is important in helping society to function properly, it is made invisible because it is so commonplace and ordinary. In turn, child domestic workers are invisible to the rest of society.
Culture and traditions around domestic service see the practice of child domestic work as normal, and indeed, beneficial for girls who will one day become wives and mothers. Many employers, far from seeing themselves as exploiters, consider that they are helping the child and her family by taking her in. But at the same time, employers often seek out children and adolescents in particular because they are cheaper to hire than adults, are more malleable and cost less to support.
HOW DO CHILDREN GET INVOLVED?
" Well, I began working from a very young age, I was seven when I started working, looking after children. This was not easy for me. As they say, a child looking after a child is not easy."
"Because all the members of my family except my old grandma passed away [due to conflict] and I had to earn bread for myself and grandma."