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SLAVERY TYPE Child domestic work

The Freedom Fund launched a new hotspot in Kenya seeking to increase the visibility of Child Domestic Workers and protect them from hazardous work.

Hotspot start date: December 2022

Child Domestic Work is the second largest contributor to the number of working children in Kenya, second only to the agriculture sector. Unofficial data evidence from the IDAY report of 2015 suggests that Kenya has 350,000 child domestic workers in the country working under intolerable conditions. CDWs are largely invisible, which is mainly attributed to the privacy of the domestic sector, the ineffectiveness of legislation, inadequate capacity on the part of the labour inspection unit, paucity of data, cultural values, and perceptions as well as lack of public awareness.

Most publicly available literature indicates that child domestic workers are often exposed to physical violence, sexual abuse/defilement, are often paid lower than minimum wage, work long hours, often without a break, risk being trafficked and end up in bonded labour. In the same breath, there are also reports of good outcomes such as creating opportunities for employment of those above 16 years, providing safety nets for orphans, creating opportunities for continuing education and/or vocational skills provided by employers. This calls for consideration of the opportunity cost of child domestic work especially in enabling environments.

The context analysis carried out in nine rural, urban and border counties of Kenya revealed that more than half (55.7%) of child domestic workers surveyed were 15-18 years old, and nearly half (44.3%) were aged 11-17 years old. The majority (72.5%) surveyed were female, and 58.3% had already been a child domestic worker for more than five years. Many revealed that economic pressures on family, being orphaned, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, illiteracy or ignorance of their rights pushed them into domestic work, making them vuilnerable to exploitation.

The Kenya Hotspot program therefore envisages to foster far-reaching changes by supporting:

  • The evolution of systemic multi-actor/multi-sectorial initiatives touching on policy, legislative action and enforcement, social protection, education, vocational training, labour markets, health, and social norms. Involving not only the affected children, their families and communities but also incorporating a wider national development agenda and plans including poverty reduction and decisions concerning budgetary resource allocations.
  • The establishment of or the support of evidence-based policy & programming. This includes the development of broad based, improved, and automated data collection and provision of statistical tools to better capture child labour/child domestic work – including those in slavery like situations.
  • Engage in strategic communication and advocacy towards building a broad-based consensus for identifying, prohibiting and eliminating exploitative work by child domestic workers and changing the attitudes of households towards children working.
  • Involve, engage and commit the participation of employers in the ‘de-invisibilizing’ of CDW by identifying and assisting child domestic workers through engagement with their employers, obtaining their support.
  • Engendering a Rightsholder-led/child-led, child-centric approach, changing adult perceptions of children as passive victims of child labour, abuse, and violence and building understanding them as citizens and individuals capable of analysing and responding to their situations and problems.