Adolescent domestic help more vulnerable

Muslima Jahan . Dhaka | Update:

Adolescent domestic workers are more vulnerable than other age groups working in the sector.

Those aged between 13 and 18 are comparatively more among the victims of killing and rape during their work, according to human rights body Ain O Salish Kendra’s annual report from 2015 to 2018.

The percentage of suicide is also higher among the housemaids in that age group, the ASK reports added.

Girls mainly work as domestic help in Bangladesh.

Ain O Salish Kendra report was based on news reports appearing in eight national dailies.

The reports show 87 girls were killed in the past four years. As high as 57 per cent of them were between 13 and 18 years.

Bangladesh Child Rights Forum director Md Abdus Shaheed said most of the housemaids are in this age group. As the adolescents are more vocal in their protest against against injustice, they often fall victim of torture and killing.

Lack of legal protection is the prime cause behind this, he added.

Statistics by Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) also show the same results.

BILS says 78 per cent of the tortured housemaids are children.

Most recently on 26 March, a body of a child domestic maid, Baishakhi, was recovered from Uttara in the capital. She was around 12 years old and was hanged to death.

Also, the ASK’s reports show 58 per cent of those who committed suicide during their work were aged between 13 and 18.

According to the domestic help and welfare policy 2015, those who are below 14 cannot be employed as domestic help. But, those who are between 12 and 14 can be given light chores.

Risky jobs, no recognition

The domestic help work is fifth on the list of most vulnerable works. But, this profession has no place on the list of 38 risky jobs by the labour and employment ministry.

As per a research titled ‘Hidden Slavery: Child Domestic Workers’ commissioned by the Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), 83 per cent of the domestic help are girls.

On the other hand, the labour and employment ministry says 90 per cent domestic help are female.

Of them, BSAF added, 60 per cent are victims of physical and mental torture.

As high as 20 per cent of them fall prey to sexual harassment, added the study conducted on 10 towns.

Human rights activist and lawyer Salma Ali said there are no appropriate measures in either the labour law or the child law against repression of the domestic help. That is why the suffering of the housemaids continues.

Asked about the matter, labour ministry’s additional secretary Md Rezaul Haque said the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy was formulated as per necessity and demands.

If needed, the job will also be included on the list of the risky occupations.

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