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Campaign Starts To Make Homes Child Labour Free

Global March Against Child Labour press release, 19 January 2001

New Delhi - The Global March kicks off today a year-long crusade against a modern day form of slavery. Trapped between four walls, tens of millions of children are toiling night and day as domestic servants in the homes of wealthier families. Scrubbing, sweeping, serving and suffering, these children have long forgotten the joy that childhood was meant to be.

A widespread practice throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America, the use of children as domestic servants has been condemned as one of the worst forms of child labour. The ILO has described domestic work as among the lowest status, least regulated, and poorest paid of all occupations--whether performed by adults or children.

The harsh reality of child domestic work today is shocking:

  • In Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines, studies have shown child domestics spend on average 15 hours or more working each day, seven days a week; in Morocco a survey found that 72% of child domestic workers began their day before 7 am and went to bed after 11 pm.
  • In Ghana, 80% of girls working as domestics were between 10 and 14 years; in Venezuela, more than 25% of child domestic workers are said to be less than 10 years old; in Haiti children as young as 5 are live-in domestic "restaveks".
  • Most child domestics live with and are under the exclusive, round-the-clock control of their employer
  • 90% of child domestics are girls and many are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse.
    • The launch of this campaign marks the third anniversary of the start of the Global March Against Child Labour. The March has travelled over 80,000 kms to raise awareness about child labour and it was instrumental in the creation of ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. It has now developed into the world's largest movement in defence of exploited children.

      Cecilia Oebanda-Flores, the Global March Coordinator in the Philippines and one of the pioneers in the field of child domestic work, has called for protection of young domestic workers who are wrapped in silence and deliberately excluded from the rights accorded to other members of society. Against a backdrop of political turmoil in the Philippines, 3,000 children and civil society movers will be rallying together in a call for peace and unity for working children. Former child domestic worker, Sarah Balabagan, who survived a long prison sentence and a hundred lashes in the UAE, will be leading the occasion.

      In India, Divya Chauhan, Miss India Asia-Pacific, inaugurated "No Cinderella Story: The Global March Campaign Against Domestic Child Labour". This exploitation of children "snatches away the most beautiful days of these young lives and I will be glad to help bring this hidden cruelty to light", said Divya on joining the campaign. Together with former child labourers and school children, she helped go door-to-door asking homeowners to place a "child-labour- free home" sticker on their door if they support the campaign and don't employ child domestic workers.

      During this year the Global March aims to dramatically increase awareness about the extent and seriousness of the problem. Active in over 100 countries, the movement will be pushing for legal measures, rehabilitation programs, and direct interventions to protect child domestic workers. Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of the Global March appealed to civil society for urgent action, "children are the soul and spirit of every nation, but behind closed doors their dreams will die a silent death if we don't act now."

      To find out more or to become a part of the campaign, please contact:

      Toko Tomita or Anandi Selva Kumar Domestic Child Labour Campaign Coordinators Global March International Secretariat L-6 Kalkaji, New Delhi-19, India Tel: (91 11) 622-4899, 647-5481 Fax: (91 11) 623-6818 E-mail: yatra@del2.vsnl.net.in, childhood@globalmarch.org Website: www.globalmarch.org

      Copyright 2001 Global March Against Child Labour. Distributed by allAfrica.com. For information about the content or for permission to redistribute, publish or use for broadcast, contact the publisher.