Child Labour: Use of Children as Domestic Help: The Legal and Moral Burden (1)

I hope we know that according to International Labour Organisation Study there are 15 million children under the age of 14 working in Nigerian. 64 percent are street vendors, 13 percent are beggars, 4 percent are shoe shiners, 6 percent are car watchers/washers, 5 percent are scavengers and 8 percent are feet washers. Another 24 percent are mechanic apprentice, mechanic and vulcanizer, 17 percent are bus conductors, iron metal workers are 6 percent, carpenters and tailors/weavers are 14 percent each, hairdresser/barber are 18 percent and caterers are 8 percent. Many whose numbers could not be identified are engaged as domestic servant/slaves and farm, factory and quarry workers.

I am not scared by the statistics of child labour above; I am only extremely saddened by them. Do you know why I am only saddened by the statistics of the child labour above? Simple, we already know the extent of the problem. Therefore it is not difficult to plan the intervention. Such is not the case with children who are ‘engaged as domestic servant/slaves and farm, factory and quarry workers’ ‘whose number could not be identified.’ This is very scary. It simply means we do not know how many of our children are lost child labour as domestic helps. I hope you know that in most cases these children are trafficked from the rural areas to the urban areas and in some cases from neigbouring countries.

The use of children as domestic worker/ house help is a deep-seated and yet unaddressed issues. It is an open secret and it is fast becoming a norm. Most of us are collaborators, particularly by our deafening silence. There is hardly any building both in the rich and poor urban areas that you will not find a child being used as domestic servant. Those who illegally employ them always have excuses for doing so. The truth is that they have no any meaningful reasons, which are not capable of appeasing the conscience of the few, who still manage to have their morality intact in a wicked world.

It is not only that the children are exposed to being used as domestic servants; they are also exposed to bizarre abuses. We have seen cases of domestic servants, who must not sit where people, who are considered the members of sit or eat where they eat. We have seen a case of a child domestic help, who lived and ate in the toilet. Some of them have been killed at the slightest provocation by their illegal employer. Recently, a child, who was brought from another part of the country to Lagos, was recently set on fire by her madam, having being accused of stealing a piece of meat from the soup pot.

I am yet to meet a family, who treat a child domestic staff like their own children. Please note that I did not say, they do not exist, I only said, I have not seen one. It may mean that it is very scarce. Even those who claim to be benevolent illegal employers, who claim to send these children domestic servant to school or sponsor them to learn a trade, it is nothing but a deceptive effort at tokenism.

The question they must answer is that would they treat the child domestic servant like their own biological children? Would they sent the child domestic servant to the same school they send their children to? Would they shop for them in the same shop? Would they send them abroad for holidays? Here is my thinking, once as an employer of a child domestic servant, you cannot give the child the exact treatment you give to your child, then you are hypocritical. You are an expert in tokenism. The real issue is that, I think there is hardly anyone, who will be comfortable hiring an underage as a house help, who would have the maturity, discipline or benevolence to treat them his/her own children.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

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