What is Child Domestic Labour?

Child Domestic Labour or Child Domestic Work is when children are required to do domestic work in the household of a third party or employer. All over the world, millions of children are engaged in this work, performing tasks such as cleaning, washing, cooking and other household chores. In addition, they may be responsible for looking after children, tending gardens, running errands and other tasks.

Child domestic labour is a widespread form of child labour in Pakistan and is particularly worrying due to its hidden nature. This form of labour goes unnoticed as each child is employed individually and performs their tasks within the confines of private households. The lack of visibility greatly increases the risk of violence, exploitation and abuse towards the children employed.

Types of Child Domestic Labour

Child domestic labour normally falls in four types of categories.

Part-time Child Domestic Labour

Children in this category are employed to do a specific job or set of tasks for a limited period of time, usually 2-3 hours per day. After completing their work, they leave the employer’s home and go to other households to do similar work. The work may involve housework, running errands such as cleaning, washing disches, laundry etc.

Full-day Child Domestic Labour

In this type of child labour, children are employed for a whole day but are allowed to go home in the evening. The work may include a range of household chores such as cleaning, cooking and looking after children.

Live-in Child Domestic Labour

Children who fall under this category live with their employer’s family and are usually employed 24 hours a day. They have to do all the tasks their employer asks them to do, and they also have to work odd hours. Often there is no concept of working hours.

Child Domestic Labour through Parental Employment

In this form of child labour, children are not directly employed by the employer but have to do domestic work because their parents are employed in the household. These children may have to help their parents with housework or take care of younger children.

It is important to consider the different types of child domestic labour because the duration and conditions of employment can have a significant impact on the child’s well-being. For instance, children who are employed as part-time domestic workers may be exposed to different households in a single day, which could increase their chances of encountering abusive or exploitative employers. Even if some of the employers are good, there is no guarantee that all of them will treat the child fairly or provide a safe working environment.

On the other hand, children who are employed as full-day or live-in domestic workers are more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to the prolonged exposure to their employers. The longer a child works at an employer’s house, the higher the risk of encountering various forms of abuse, such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. In addition, the lack of parental supervision and the isolated living conditions can further exacerbate the child’s vulnerability.


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