Child Labour in Kenya

Topics: Victorian era, Domestic worker Pages: 86 (27020 words) Published: March 23, 2010
A freedom Song

Atieno washes dishes,
Atieno plucks the chicken,
Atieno gets up early,
Beds her sacks down in the kitchen,
Atieno eight years old,
Atieno Yo.

Since she is my sister’s child
Atieno needs no pay,
While she works my wife can sit
Sewing every sunny day:
With her earnings I support
Atieno Yo.

Atieno’s sly and jealous,
Bad example to the kids
Since she minds them, like a schoolgirl
Wants their dresses, shoes and beads,
Atieno ten years old,
Atieno Yo.

Now my wife has gone to study
Atieno is less free.
Don’t I keep her, school my own ones,
Pay the party, union fees,
All for the progress: aren’t you grateful
Atieno Yo?

Visitors need much attention,
All the more when I work at night.
That girls spends too long at market,
Who will teach her what is right?
Atieno rising fourteen,
Atieno Yo.

Atieno’s had a bay
So we know that she is bad.
Fifty fifty it may live
And repeat the life she had
Ending in post-partum bleeding,
Atieno Yo.



Domestic work abuses the rights of children and consequently is an intolerable form of child labour. Unfortunately, it forms the largest employer of girls under sixteen years around the world. It is the most common and traditional form of a child labour, especially among girls because it is viewed as an essential part of the upbringing of a child. The majority of the child domestics are between twelve to seventeen [12-17] years old down to five [5] years.[1] ILO studies in the year 2000 indicate, there were 1,647,000 economically active children in Kenya. They comprised of 782,000 girls and 865,000 boys aged between 10-14, representing 39% of all the children in this age group.[2]Plan international has estimated child domestic workers to be about 200,000 of the 1.2 million domestic workers in Kenya[3]. Other studies estimate the prevalence of child domestic workers in Kenya to be 41.3% of all children aged between 5-14 years, translating to about three million children[4].

Whereas domestic work is not per se an exploitative form of child labour, child labour, whether voluntary or involuntary is wrong. This is because child work is beneficial to the child while child labour is exploitative. This is more so when there is debt bondage, trafficking of children, or where workers are physically restrained or where they are subjected to inhuman conditions[5].

Society often does not perceive the kind of work the children do as child labour. Since time immemorial children have always been used to run errands according to their ability.[6] Children could do what their parents did, and could often lend a hand to their relatives. The work that children did was for the cultural socialization of the child, it was meant for the physical, social and mental development of the child, and it is what qualifies to be called as child work. On the other hand, socio-economic realities have translated child work to child labour, which is exploitative, as it prejudices the child’s physical, social, spiritual, and moral development. For instance, relatives bring children from the rural areas with the promise of educating them or employment and end up making them domestic workers.

The reasons for utilizing child workers and particularly in domestic work mainly include the children being greatly ignorant of their rights. Children generally require less attention than adult workers. They also take orders to perform menial work without complaining, they are also less likely to steal and be absent from work.[7]

Most of the domestic workers perform all kinds of household chores including assisting in cooking, serving meals, cleaning, washing clothes, ironing, washing floors, picking children from school, farm work like herding and milking.[8]They also look after children, clean the children, and prepare them for school. They also clean the compound and weed gardens[9].

The children are paid...
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