The world’s child laborers don’t always toil inside sweat shops sewing sweaters for American and European consumers.
Instead, vast numbers cook and clean inside private homes. They might be as young as five years old. Most likely they’re girls who also face abuse and, potentially, a future as sex slaves.
According to the United Nations International Labor Organization, there are an estimated 10.5 million child laborers in domestic work across the globe today.
The group released a new report, “Ending Child Labor in Domestic Work,” on Wednesday.
“The situation of many child domestic workers not only constitutes a serious violation of child rights, but remains an obstacle to the achievement of many national and international development objectives,” said Constance Thomas, an ILO director.
Wednesday also marked the UN's annual World Day Against Child Labor.
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The ILO highlighted domestic work because, in many countries, children who work inside homes don’t have the same protections as those found in factories.
To prevent potential abuses, the ILO is asking governments to ratify UN conventions on minimum age requirements.
“We need a robust legal framework to clearly identify, prevent and eliminate child labor in domestic work, and to provide decent working conditions to adolescents when they can legally work,” Thomas said online.
Knowing that money these children earn is often vital for their families, the ILO is also pushing a convention on providing better conditions for domestic workers.
The revelations prompted Pope Francis to push for greater action.
“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, according to The Telegraph.
The world needs “effective measures to fight this plague,” the pontiff said during his weekly address in St. Peter’s Square.
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