Prevalence of Child Domestic Labour in Pakistan

According to Pakistan’s Child Labour Survey in 1996, approximately 3.3 million children were engaged in child labour, with 8% of them involved in domestic work. This form of child labour was found to be more prevalent in urban areas than in rural regions. Specifically, the survey indicated that child domestic labour was more common in urban centers, with an estimated 19.1% of children engaged in child labour in urban settings, compared to 6.6% in rural areas.

In 2004, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that 264,000 children were working in domestic roles across Pakistan. A 2003 study conducted in six major cities by the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development (NCCWD) found that 8% of all children engaged in child labour were involved in domestic work. These figures highlighted the seriousness of the issue, although they cannot be generalised nationally or sub-nationally due to limitations in data collection methods.

Recent child labour surveys conducted at the provincial level have shed light on the situation. Thus far, Gilgit Baltistan Child Labour Survey 2018-19, Punjab Child Labour Survey 2019-20, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Labour Survey 2022 have released their findings. However, these surveys acknowledge that children working as domestic workers may not be fully accounted for. This oversight can occur because respondents may fail to report children working as household servants or domestic helpers, or because the nature of their activities may be mistakenly categorised as household chores rather than economic activities.

Among the recent surveys on child labour, the Punjab Child Labour Survey 2019-20 has provided some substantial findings. It reveals that nearly 70,000 children aged 5-14 years are employed in domestic work, with over 110,000 engaged in such work between the ages of 5 and 17. However, it’s alarming to note that more than 10,000 very young children, aged 5 to 9 years, are also employed in these roles. The survey also found a preference for employing girls in domestic work compared to boys.

Child Domestic Labour in Punjab
AgeTotal Working PopulationChildren in Domestic Work

It’s is important to recognise that child domestic workers often remain hidden, making it difficult to collect accurate data. As such, the actual number of children engaged in domestic labour is likely much higher than reported.


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