We must confront this horrific reality
We are horrified by the findings of a research titled “Hidden Slavery Child Domestic Workers,” which state that nearly 80 percent of child domestic workers toil for as many as 14 to 18 hours daily, for an average monthly salary of Tk 1,267, with as many as 7.5 percent receiving no financial benefits whatsoever for their intensive labour. As per the survey conducted on 1,230 child domestic workers in seven divisions of the country, 53.7percent of the respondents were physically punished by their employers, 25.9 percent incurred some form of injury and 17.6 percentof them were sexually abused. As many as 7.2percent of the domestic workers were in the 9-11 age group.
It is a shame that we have allowed this practice to flourish in this country for so long. It is simply beyond us how employers, who are supposedly educated, can treat children with such disdain and cruelty, denying them food, leisure and basic necessities, subjecting them to ill treatment and even torture; how we,as a society, can continue to turn a blind eye towards this; and how we, as a state, can provide them so little protection.
With the new domestic workers policy in place, the state must now ensure that no one below 14 years is employed as a domestic worker and that his/her working hours and salary are properly negotiated. A mechanism should be put in place to allow children to complain if they are abused and appropriate action taken against the perpetrator. Meanwhile, as employers, the least we can do is to treat these children — many as young as their own — with respect, love and care.