Household Chores and Child Domestic Work

  1. The real story of Cinderella: Children in domestic labour

Household chores undertaken by children in their own homes, in reasonable conditions, and under the supervision of those close to them are an integral part of family life and of growing up, therefore something positive. However, when these workloads interfere with children’s education or are excessive, they can be tantamount to child labour.

Girls in particular are often tasked with caring for younger siblings, older and ill relatives, cleaning, cooking and tending to the household, to enable their mothers to work for wages. Girls are highly vulnerable as many forms of girls' work is hidden, they face multiple disadvantages, and have the "double burden" of having to combine household chores and economic activity, which jeopardizes their schooling.

Child labour in domestic work refers to situations where domestic work is performed by children below the relevant minimum age (for light work, full-time non-hazardous work), in hazardous conditions or in a slavery-like situation.

Some of the most common risks children face in domestic service include: long and tiring working days; use of toxic chemicals; carrying heavy loads; handling dangerous items such as knives, axes and hot pans; insufficient or inadequate food and accommodation, and humiliating or degrading treatment including physical and verbal violence, and sexual abuse.

The risks are compounded when a child lives in the household where he or she works as a domestic worker. These hazards need to be seen in association with the denial of fundamental rights of the child, such as, for example, access to education and health care, the right to rest, leisure, play and recreation, and the right to be cared for and to have regular contact with their parents and peers. These factors can have an irreversible physical, psychological and moral impact on the development, health and wellbeing of a child.