Help end domestic slavery

People leave their homes every day to find jobs as domestic workers in the cities of our countries. Women make up by far most of those working in private homes, but what’s shocking is that a quarter of domestic workers are children,1 and the majority are aged under 14, with some starting work at just five years old.2

Although domestic work need not be exploitative, it is isolated and so unprotected. Combined with the worker’s extreme dependency on an employer and a lack of rights, they are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

This is particularly true for children and migrant workers. Locked inside the homes of strangers, some domestic workers find themselves caught in the nightmare of modern slavery. They are deceived by false job offers and unscrupulous employers who extract their labor under threat, preventing contact with their families, and withholding their wages. Physical punishment, as well as sexual abuse, is not uncommon in domestic servitude.

But there is a global standard to protect domestic workers. It’s called Convention 189 and it sets out measures for governments to follow to better protect them.3 29 key countries have already signed4 on however momentum has slowed since it was introduced in 2011, and we need to push our governments to act.

Call on the Government of your country to ratify Convention 189 immediately and help protect children and adults from domestic slavery.

It’s not known how many thousands, or millions, of domestic workers, including children, have been trafficked into servitude.5 Poverty, rural-urban and cross-border migration, to deep-rooted practices like sending children to live elsewhere, as well as discrimination, are all factors that contribute to trafficking into domestic servitude.

Pham Thi Dao’s Story

Pham Thi Dao left Vietnam to become a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia where she was forced to work from 5am until 1am, beaten and given little food. “As soon as I arrived at the airport in Riyadh, they (employees from a Saudi company providing domestic workers) pushed me into a room with more than a hundred of others,” she said. “When my employer picked me up later, he took my passport and employment contract. Most women I’ve talked to here experience the same thing.”6

 

In Haiti, restaveks are children who are sent to a host family by their biological families in the hope of a better life in exchange for doing chores. However, many are forced to work without pay, beaten, starved, cut off from their families and at high risk of physical and sexual abuse.7

June’s Story

June was given away by her parents aged five to become a restavek. She was sent to the capital city, Port-au-Prince, eight hours away from her hometown, Jérémie, where she would endure over ten years of abuse. Promises from host families to provide her with an education would be repeatedly broken. Today, there are over 300,000 children like June in Haiti.8

 

Latifa’s Story

Latifa was 12 years old when she was sent to work for a family in Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city, as a petits bonnes or child domestic worker. Latifa worked 18-hour days caring for four children, cleaning and cooking without rest. She was allowed to eat at 7am and once more at midnight before going to bed, all whilst enduring physical abuse from her employer.9

“I don’t mind working, but to be beaten and not to have enough food, this is the hardest part of it.” Luckily, Latifa managed to escape and rejoin her family but many of the thousands of children in domestic work in Morocco, some in domestic slavery, are trapped.10

 

Around the world, there are at least 67.1 million domestic workers – millions of them children. Women make up 81% of national domestic workers and 73% of migrant domestic workers11 If all domestic workers worked in one country, this country would be the tenth largest employer worldwide.

Domestic work is an important source of employment but the people behind these numbers are too often invisible behind the doors of private households and unprotected by national legislation. This allows for the worst types of abuse often amounting to modern slavery.

Tougher rules to protect domestic workers are long overdue. By sending a message to the Government of your country today you can help start a domino effect until all countries take action.

31 countries have already taken this step – will yours be next?

Countries that have ratified (as of December 2020):

Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Namibia, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay

  • December 2020: Namibia ratified Convention 189. The Convention will enter into force for Namibia on December 9, 2021.

  • July 2020: Mexico ratified Convention 189. The Convention will enter into force for Mexico on July 3, 2021.

  • COVID – 19 update: There has been growing concern for domestic workers across the globe having proper protection against forced labor during the virus outbreak. Many domestic workers such as nannies and elder caretakers are being asked to stay with their employers or are fired from their jobs. 

  • February 2020: As of this month, no additional countries have ratified C189 since Madagascar did early last year. Let’s keep the pressure on and make sure governments are committed to ending domestic slavery for good!

  • June 11, 2019: Madagascar ratifies the Domestic Workers Convention!

  • Jun 11, 2014: Campaign Launches

Chip in and help end modern slavery once and for all.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

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Galya
Galya
1 year ago

That’s the reason I don’t travel to UAE. Behind a modern facade there is a medieval order. I refuse to support tourism in countries like this. And everyone should too.

Katerina Bakirtzi
Katerina Bakirtzi
7 months ago
Reply to  Galya

It’s not responsible the state -in All cases-if the traffickers and smugglers get money. Maby we should try to give informations to the official UAE Police or political members. Why not?

Mizzyo
Mizzyo
1 year ago
Reply to  Galya

What if you live in a country like that ..?

Galya
Galya
1 year ago
Reply to  Mizzyo

So what was your point again? 🙂

Galya
Galya
1 year ago
Reply to  Mizzyo

Haha, I lived 18 years in a country like that, and I also have my share of living and working like a slave.

Ali murtaza
Ali murtaza
30 days ago
Reply to  Galya

Salve

Andrew (Andy) Alcock
Andrew (Andy) Alcock
1 year ago

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates have a history or treating foreign workers as slaves. people are allowed to enter the country, they are underpaid or not paid at all and are blocked from leaving. Many of the women are treated are treated as sex slaves as well. And the human rights for Saudi women are not good either. This inhumane violation of human rights should not be tolerated in the 21st century.

sajjad sulman
sajjad sulman
1 year ago

With the passage of time , all will be resolved

TJG Cadby
TJG Cadby
7 months ago
Reply to  sajjad sulman

In how many hundred years?

sullivan
sullivan
2 years ago

The medieval barbarian regime in Oman was put in place by Britain and sustained both by Britain and the US – What a shame that we claim to be modern and progressives and sustain such regimes. Other exaples are Saudi, UAE and Kuwait

Tiffanie
Tiffanie
3 years ago

I always believe in eye for an eye. Whatever it is that these horrible so called ‘men’ do to those girls should be done back to them and more! Then they would think twice about treating people like animals if they were treated the same way as their punishment. If the government had their own daughters treated this way, there would be a change and if not, somehow someway karma will be a bitch! What goes around comes around!

Paulette Harvey
Paulette Harvey
2 years ago

43 million slaves to date, never before has slavery been so easy to do and so cheaply, in olden day slavery the victim was worth a tidy sum and treated as wealth, today a slaver can buy a child for the price if a meal and dispose of him or her just as easily if he or she perishes just replace with another by a phone call.

Grindl
Grindl
10 months ago

Yea and the UK still ignores the impact and abuse of slavery in Empire days. The fact the slave traders got paid to stop the slave trade!!! It seems many countries have a past that needs to be recognised for its abuses of indigenous people as well e.g. the US and Australia! Its also the lack of understanding or knowledge of our own country’s past abuses during the colonial era that breeds racism and policies like BREXIT! It’s easy to point the finger and ignore our own current prejudices.

Call on your country to ratify C189 to help end domestic slavery

Help us reach 100,000 actions
88,913

Dear Labor Minister,

I believe domestic workers should enjoy the same protections as other workers and no longer be the invisible labour behind the doors of private households and unprotected by national legislation. This allows for the worst types of abuse often amounting to modern slavery.

I call on my Government to take a stand for domestic workers and ratify the Domestic Workers Convention 189 immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Freedom United will protect your privacy while updating you on campaigns, news and stories about modern slavery.

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