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Child domestic workers in Liberia

February 27, 2024 / Our Reports The Freedom Fund / @freedom_fund

Among children aged 5 to 17 in Liberia, 40.5 percent are engaged in work and 29.5 percent are involved in hazardous occupations, according to the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (2021). Although child domestic work is not an inherently harmful form of labour, it is an under-recognised avenue for the exploitation of girls and boys in Liberia.

A newly released study, produced by NORC at the University of Chicago and The Freedom Fund, is the first of its kind to examine the working conditions and treatment of child domestic workers (CDWs) in private homes in Montserrado and Nimba counties, Liberia. This research and the wider program are funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons.

Key findings include:

  • In Liberia, most children enter domestic work aged 7-12 (average 9.8 years) and the average age of a CDW is 14.1.
  • Almost 1 in 10 CDWs aged 13-15 in Liberia reported experiencing some form of sexual violence at their place of work.
  • Over three-quarters (76.4 percent) of CDWs reported working conditions that contravened Liberian labour laws. The majority of employers/caregivers were in violation of one or more child labour laws, with 58.8 percent of CDWs working hours that exceed the legal limit.

The findings of Behind Closed Doors: Measuring the Scale and Nature of Exploitative Child Domestic Work in Liberia aim to support community-led interventions, working with local and regional decision-makers, to reduce abuse and exploitation of CDWs.

To further explore these findings and interventions to support child domestic workers, come join our webinar on Tuesday 26th March 2024, from 3 to 4pm West Africa Time / 2 to 3 pm GMT. This will be an opportunity to hear directly from the report authors and engage with child protection experts from Liberia and Nigeria to discuss how we can collectively work toward improving the situation of child domestic workers. Register here.

Click below to access the report:


Source: Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services. (2021). Liberia Demographic and Health Survey 2019-20. Available at: https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR362/FR362.pdf

Photo credit: Accountability Lab