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Child Domestic Workers in Zimbabwe

Michael Bourdillon

Publication Year: 2007

In the context of AIDS and a declining economy, one strategy for children to ensure their own livelihood is to engage in domestic employment. Here, Michael Bourdillon presents the findings of research based on interviews and discussions with child domestic workers in Zimbabwe. It looks at the circumstances that pushed them into employment, the hardships and humiliations they face therein, as well as the benefits they derive, including, in some cases, education. Most children wanted improvements in their living and working conditions. They did not want to be stopped from working, perceiving that this would worsen their already harsh lives. While child domestic wok is problematic, and often lays children open to various types of abuse, it can also offer critical support and patronage to very disadvantaged children.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Acknowledgments

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pp. v-7

Many people have contributed time and effort in providing the material we have used for this book. Most of all, we acknowledge our debt to the children, many of whom gave time in the midst...

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-x

Child domestic work has given rise to controversy throughout the world. Many people justify employing children to look after the house as a way of providing an income for poor children and their families. In our situation...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

Many children in Zimbabwe help to support themselves and their families by working for an income. In the face of growing poverty and the deaths of many adults from HIV/AIDS, children cannot always depend on the adult...

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2. Forms of Engagement in Domestic Work

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pp. 17-34

Most children are expected to provide some help in the home and the amount of work varies with the resources of the family. Well-off families may have hired domestic help and a variety of aids in the home to minimise work...

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3. Reasons for Seeking Employment

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pp. 35-48

Relatively wealthy children sometimes seek part-time jobs for extra spending money and independence, or for a new experience, sometimes to be shared with their peers. In many situations working children find enjoyment...

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4. Finding a Job

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pp. 49-52

Having decided that employment offered an opportunity to improve their very difficult situations, many children (26 percent in the survey) found employment through their own initiative, which was easier for those who already lived...

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5. Employing Child Domestic Workers

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pp. 53-62

In what follows, we pay attention to what the children say about their work, particularly in response to our questionnaire survey, which covers a broad range of child domestic...

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6. Conditions of Work

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pp. 63-77

At the same workshop for working children in September of 2001, the child domestic workers mentioned five problem areas; low pay; physical and sexual abuse; being required to wash the underwear of employers; inadequate...

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7. Living Conditions

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pp. 79-83

Two thirds of the child workers live with their employers.103 Of these, around half (52 percent) sleep in a bedroom in the house, usually like one of the family.104 In the case of Nomsa, the child was called in from an...

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8. Abuse

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pp. 85-89

Working children are vulnerable to abuse, especially if there are no family members in the vicinity to see that they are being treated well. The children in our sample are working for employers who did not stop them from attending...

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9. Clubs for Child Domestic Workers

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pp. 91-93

Officers of ZDAWU have been helping child domestic workers to form clubs so that they can meet regularly with other children in a similar position to theirs. The meetings have a social and recreational function, as well as an educational...

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10. Conclusion

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pp. 95-97

Save the Children’s policy on children and work emphasises that we should be guided by the best interests of children, that we should see the benefits of work to the children, and that it is often preferable to improve the conditions of working...

Appendix 1: Tables

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pp. 99-111

Appendix 2: Guidelines for employers of child domestic workers

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pp. 113-116

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781779221353
Print-ISBN-13: 9781779220448

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2007