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Social Issues
More Than 10 Million Children Worldwide Work As Domestic Labourers & Servants
June 12, 2013
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(UNICEF video on the plight of child domestic workers)

About 10 and a half million children around the world are said to be working as domestic servants, according to a new report.

The report, released for the World Day Against Child Labour, suggests 6.5 million of these kids are between five and 14 years old, and most of them are girls - more than 70%.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) says many work in conditions that are almost comparable to slavery - often isolated from their families and not able to go to school.

They face physical, psychological and sexual violence, and can be forced into prostitution.

"This is happening all over the world, in all regions," said Constance Thomas, director of the ILO's global program to eliminate child labour.

"Child labour doesn't only mean working in factories, or working in plantations. It also means working in domestic work, working in the homes of other people," she told the BBC. "And parents need to understand the risks their child is exposed to when this occurs."

The report says many kids end up in the homes of an employer, to clean, cook, garden, collect water, look after other children and care for the elderly.

The report says poverty is a big reason why children are exploited this way, as many are sent off to help their family make extra money or pay off debts.

And because they're often working in someone's home, it is difficult to regulate.

"The child is working, but is not considered as a worker, and although the child lives in a family setting, she or he is not treated like a family member," the report says.

"We need a robust legal framework to clearly identify, prevent and eliminate child labour in domestic work, and to provide decent working conditions to adolescents when they can legally work," said Thomas.

Meantime, to mark the day, Pope Francis spoke against child labour and called on the international community to do more to "fight this plague."

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"There are millions of minors, mostly young girls, who are victims of this form of hidden exploitation which often includes sexual abuse, poor treatment and discrimination," he said.

"It is slavery!" the Pope told 60,000 pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience.

"All children should be able to play, study, pray and grow, in their own families, in a harmonious environment, one of love and serenity. It is their right and our duty," he said.

via Radio Australia

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