workers sometimes are treated as slaves
Children in domestic service are among the most
vulnerable and exploited of all, and are the most difficult to protect.
These children are largely "invisible" workers, hidden
and ignored. Most of them come from extremely poor families; many
of them come from single parent families or have been abandoned
How many children are in domestic service?
Impossible to calculate accurately, because: nthe work is hidden, nthe children are dispersed
in separate households and nthe job arrangements are informal
(no contract or registration)
There is evidence that the practice worldwide is
extensive. In Indonesia no comprehensive statistical survey has
been carried out. Official data from the National Survey on Labour
Force 1999 show that 199.860 children between 10 and 18 years old
are working as domestic workers, but estimates are that about 1
million children (under 18) are employed in domestic services. This
number may have increased since the economic crisis in 1997.
A study by Atma Jaya University in 1994 found that
30 per cent of domestic workers were under the age of 15 years,
with over 50 per cent under the age of 18.
The working conditions of child domestic workers
are alarming all over the world. In Indonesia many of them work
in almost total isolation for up to 15 hours per day, frequently
unpaid, as board and lodging is often considered sufficient compensation.
They can be given work, such as the carrying of heavy loads, which
is beyond their capacity, and made responsible for other children
in the employer's household, disregarding the fact that they are
merely children themselves. Evidence shows that domestic workers
are subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
In some cases, child domestic workers are given
by their parents to an employer (sometimes a far relative) to be
brought up. They become totally dependent upon the employer for
food, clothing and shelter and lose their liberty. Sometimes, when
the employer no longer requires the child's services, or is dissatisfied
with the services rendered, the child may simply be turned out into
If they receive wages they are generally lower
than adults, ranging between 100.000 and 150.000 a month.
need for income
seen as lighter and less arduous than for example construction
and easier to "educate" to the employers' requirements
a guaranteed and regular income
for their children
A way of supporting a poor family and being philanthropic
see domestic work as an opportunity for girls to get a skill
which will lead them to better income and opportunities
Child domestic workers carry out works that should be done by
to more opportunities
Employment as a domestic requires no formal qualifications
How to reach and assist child domestic workers?
In Indonesia no programme has targeted child domestic
workers yet. IPEC identified this group of children as a high priority
now. A large programme is expected to start next year.
Based on experience in other countries, possible
interventions are: nEducation: since drop-outs
are prime candidates for domestic work, keeping them in school must
be encouraged. At school a programme of career counseling can include
raising awareness of their rights and how they can seek help n Legal campaign: lobbying
for national or regional protection
a publicity campaign to
-raise public awareness of the issue and counter the traditional
view that child domestic work is the best work for young girls,
-provide child domestic workers themselves with information
-raise the awareness of the government and community leaders
such as legal assistance, guidance on negotiating access to education
with employers, counseling services, locations for leisure time,
or safety shelters in case of abuse
by awareness-raising, alternative income-generating activities