Child Domestic Workers in the Spotlight at ILO/Japan/Korea Asian Meeting in Chiang Mai

The ILO/Japan/Korea Asian Meeting opens, trying to tackle the widespread problem of child domestic workers extremely vulnerable to both exploitation and abuse.

Press release | BANGKOK | 02 October 2002

BANGKOK (ILO News) – Frequently isolated from the outside world in private homes, child domestic workers are extremely vulnerable to both exploitation and abuse. The ILO this week gathers government, employer and worker representatives from 16 countries1 in Chiangmai to develop strategies to tackle this widespread problem.

The ILO/Japan/Korea Asian Meeting on Action to Combat Domestic Child Labour, sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Government of Japan, and the Ministry of Labour, Government of Korea, opens today at the Amari Rincome Hotel, Chiangmai.

The objective of the three-day seminar is to reach a common understanding about the nature of the problem of child domestic labour and possible solutions. Participants will also aim to create a draft framework for national plans at country level, develop a support mechanism for the rehabilitation of child domestic workers where they are engaged in hazardous work, as well as for the prevention of child domestic labour.

It will also provide the opportunity to share national experiences, different programme strategies, and compare the effectiveness of different interventions and practical experiences in the region with a view to facilitating the development of better intervention strategies to combat the problem.

The elimination of child labour is one of the four elements of the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work – the others being freedom from forced labour, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The Declaration commits ILO member States to respect these principles – whether or not they have ratified the fundamental Conventions, and commits the ILO to support them in those efforts.

According to the Global Report on Child Labour 2002, an estimated 211 million children world-wide aged 5-14 are engaged in some form of economic activity, with 186 million engaged in labour to be abolished (including in its worst forms).

The report states that 127.3 million economically active children, representing 60 per cent of this group, are located in the Asia and Pacific region.

While most domestic child labourers are between 12 and 17 years of age, some are as young as 5 or 6.

While there are large numbers of children in domestic service, they are among the most ‘invisible’, and therefore difficult to survey and analyse. It is also clear that there are links between children in domestic service and trafficking, both within and between countries, according to the Global Report (2002).

Child domestic workers are frequently ignored by policy-makers and excluded from the coverage of legislation, indeed, even adults in this sector are often ‘hidden from view’ and therefore denied legislative protection, let alone guarantees of a right to organise. Child domestic labour is a problem across the world, and affects rich and poor countries.

Mr Yasuyuki Nodera, ILO Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific, Mr Gab Rae Ha, Director-General, International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Labour, Government of the Republic of Korea, and Mr Shinichi Hasegawa, Assistant Minister of International Affairs, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will deliver addresses during the inaugural session.

Mr Akrapol Vanaputi, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Government of Thailand will open the meeting today at 9.00am at the Amari Rincome Hotel, Nimanhemin Road, Chiangmai.

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the opening ceremony.

1Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam will be participating in the meeting.