Skip to main content

LUP Student Papers

LUND UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES

Child Domestic Workers - Protected workers or forgotten children?

Vamborg, Anna-Clara LU (2013) JURM02 20131
Department of Law
Abstract
Millions of women around the world perform domestic work, in spite of this the work to a great extent remains undervalued and excluded from labour legislation. Domestic work is further one of the most common occupations for children, in fact it is estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that it is the most common work for girls under 16. The thesis sets out to determine whether international and national legislation is adequate and appropriate for the protection of children in domestic labour and how the legislation can be improved. Moreover, it researches which different approaches are advocated for regarding how to tackle the issue of child domestic labour and which are best used.

The analysis of the instruments... (More)
Millions of women around the world perform domestic work, in spite of this the work to a great extent remains undervalued and excluded from labour legislation. Domestic work is further one of the most common occupations for children, in fact it is estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that it is the most common work for girls under 16. The thesis sets out to determine whether international and national legislation is adequate and appropriate for the protection of children in domestic labour and how the legislation can be improved. Moreover, it researches which different approaches are advocated for regarding how to tackle the issue of child domestic labour and which are best used.

The analysis of the instruments shows different approaches regarding how to protect children from child labour. The Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits work that is exploitative and uses a holistic view on child labour as well as it translates the issue into a human rights issue. ILO Convention No. 138 aims at abolishing child labour through the adoption of strict minimum ages and ILO Convention No. 182 prioritises the combat of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. Since domestic work on many occasions has been, or can be omitted from both international and national legislation the ILO in 2011 adopted Convention No. 189, which aims for decent work for domestic workers.

It is difficult to protect children performing domestic work due to the hidden nature of the work, the work’s place in the informal economy and the fact that the work on many occasions is culturally and socially accepted and perceived to be a safe occupation for girls. The thesis finds that children performing domestic work on many occasions are trapped in child labour.

Scholars perceive the concept of childhood and how to tackle the issue of child domestic labour in varying ways. It is argued that a flaw with the minimum age approach is that it is overly influenced by Western values, not fitting developing countries where children on many occasions need to work for their survival and where child labour is a widespread phenomenon to such a point clear priorities are needed for the combat to be effective. On the other hand, ILO Convention No. 182 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been applauded for providing priorities and distinguishing between benign and harmful work respectively, and for portraying more universal aims. Many scholars are also of the opinion that a total ban of the work is not always in the best interest of the child. Focus should instead be on improving the conditions of work through laws and strengthening enforcement and inspection mechanisms.

While there is a great number of provisions in international law protecting children in domestic work, protection is still lacking on the national level where many laws do not cover domestic child labour. Further, when laws do exist they are often not effectively implemented. As a case study, the thesis reviews the national legislation in the Philippines and Haiti, two countries where the issue of domestic child labour is widespread, but in which the situation of enacted laws looks different.

The thesis reaches the conclusion that together the international instruments offer good protection for domestic workers but that there is room for improvements. There is however a problem on the national level where domestic work still often is exempted from national minimum age regulations and child labour laws. Appropriate laws taking the special situation of the workers into consideration, in accordance with ILO Convention No. 189, should be enacted. Effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms must be implemented, and advocacy to change the perception of child domestic labour must be taken. The thesis finds that the best way to approach the problem is by listening to both those wanting to abolish the practice through strict minimum ages and those wanting to improve conditions at work. The aim is to abolish all child labour but gradually through better conditions at work and by prioritising the combat of the worst forms of child labour as an urgency. Moreover, a legal ban should be complemented by other measures ensuring the child education and economic support. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Vamborg, Anna-Clara LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20131
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Labour Rights, Children's Rights
language
English
id
3802130
date added to LUP
2013-07-02 11:54:51
date last changed
2013-07-02 11:54:51
@misc{3802130,
  abstract     = {Millions of women around the world perform domestic work, in spite of this the work to a great extent remains undervalued and excluded from labour legislation. Domestic work is further one of the most common occupations for children, in fact it is estimated by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that it is the most common work for girls under 16. The thesis sets out to determine whether international and national legislation is adequate and appropriate for the protection of children in domestic labour and how the legislation can be improved. Moreover, it researches which different approaches are advocated for regarding how to tackle the issue of child domestic labour and which are best used. 

The analysis of the instruments shows different approaches regarding how to protect children from child labour. The Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits work that is exploitative and uses a holistic view on child labour as well as it translates the issue into a human rights issue. ILO Convention No. 138 aims at abolishing child labour through the adoption of strict minimum ages and ILO Convention No. 182 prioritises the combat of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. Since domestic work on many occasions has been, or can be omitted from both international and national legislation the ILO in 2011 adopted Convention No. 189, which aims for decent work for domestic workers. 

It is difficult to protect children performing domestic work due to the hidden nature of the work, the work’s place in the informal economy and the fact that the work on many occasions is culturally and socially accepted and perceived to be a safe occupation for girls. The thesis finds that children performing domestic work on many occasions are trapped in child labour.

Scholars perceive the concept of childhood and how to tackle the issue of child domestic labour in varying ways. It is argued that a flaw with the minimum age approach is that it is overly influenced by Western values, not fitting developing countries where children on many occasions need to work for their survival and where child labour is a widespread phenomenon to such a point clear priorities are needed for the combat to be effective. On the other hand, ILO Convention No. 182 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been applauded for providing priorities and distinguishing between benign and harmful work respectively, and for portraying more universal aims. Many scholars are also of the opinion that a total ban of the work is not always in the best interest of the child. Focus should instead be on improving the conditions of work through laws and strengthening enforcement and inspection mechanisms. 

While there is a great number of provisions in international law protecting children in domestic work, protection is still lacking on the national level where many laws do not cover domestic child labour. Further, when laws do exist they are often not effectively implemented. As a case study, the thesis reviews the national legislation in the Philippines and Haiti, two countries where the issue of domestic child labour is widespread, but in which the situation of enacted laws looks different. 

The thesis reaches the conclusion that together the international instruments offer good protection for domestic workers but that there is room for improvements. There is however a problem on the national level where domestic work still often is exempted from national minimum age regulations and child labour laws. Appropriate laws taking the special situation of the workers into consideration, in accordance with ILO Convention No. 189, should be enacted. Effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms must be implemented, and advocacy to change the perception of child domestic labour must be taken. The thesis finds that the best way to approach the problem is by listening to both those wanting to abolish the practice through strict minimum ages and those wanting to improve conditions at work. The aim is to abolish all child labour but gradually through better conditions at work and by prioritising the combat of the worst forms of child labour as an urgency. Moreover, a legal ban should be complemented by other measures ensuring the child education and economic support.},
  author       = {Vamborg, Anna-Clara},
  keyword      = {Labour Rights,Children's Rights},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Child Domestic Workers - Protected workers or forgotten children?},
  year         = {2013},
}