The real story of Cinderella: Children in domestic labour

All children are encouraged to lend a hand at home. But a new report from the International Labour Organization, or ILO, highlights the plight of the millions of youngsters who are exploited in domestic service. ILO TV tells the real story of Cinderella.

Date issued: 11 June 2004 | Size/duration: 00:02:47 (2.74 MB)
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All children are encouraged to lend a hand at home. But a new report from the International Labour Organization, or ILO, highlights the plight of the millions of youngsters who are exploited in domestic service. ILO TV tells the real story of Cinderella.

The country is Guatemala: the games are the same the world over. But these girls have all been exploited as child domestic workers. Some have been abused. Some have been kept in slave-like conditions behind closed doors.

These children are now receiving help to rebuild their lives and regain their childhood. Others are not so lucky. In Guatemala alone, it’s thought that around 40 000 children are working in domestic service.

Isobela is 14. She came to Guatemala City when her family, ethnic Mayans, fled from fighting in the civil war.

She’s used to a 15 hour day and some of the work is heavy. A lot of the time she’s alone in the house of her employer. She’s been working since she was ten.

Isobela

When my Dad died, I had to start work and give the money to my Mum…I get sad because I’m alone and I’m not with my mother. I get sad.

The International Labour Organization estimates that there could be more than ten million children working as domestics worldwide. They’re not just lending a hand.

Frans Roselaers, ILO Expert

It is true that in a number of cases, child domestic workers are carrying out light work - are, in fact, helping hands - but on the other hand in the vast majority of cases this is hazardous and exploitative work - for many hours, at too young an age and under difficult conditions - and therefore we would count it among the worst forms of child labour.

Isobela used to hang out with other maids on Sunday.

Now she’s returned to her village, no longer works, and is back with her family.

Because she was under the national minimum working age, she was one of 80 girls removed from their jobs by the Conrado de la Cruz Association.

At this project, which is supported by the ILO, girls learn about their rights, including the right to an education and the right to play.

Real-life Cinderellas, they are encouraged to write their own story. And to give it a happy ending.