EDITORIAL: Time for an end to violence against domestic workers

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Nigeria has continued to record high number of violence against domestic workers. It is alarming and criminal offence as far as the laws of the country is concerned, to brutally assault another person. Unfortunately, this act is common amongst the affluent and the privileged in the society.

In Nigeria, like most other societies in Africa where such informal employment is practiced, domestic workers experience uncertain working conditions with little or no social protection due to the belief that the work is considered a low status job. The United Nations Children Find (UNICEF) noted in one of its reports, “Employment benefits such as health insurance, maternity benefits or social pensions are usually absent from working arrangements.

“Along with the receipt of little or no pay, domestic workers (especially live-ins) have no clear division between work and private time with long working hours, limited rest and leisure time, and rare opportunities for days off. Additionally, they have heavy workloads, inadequate accommodation and food (for live-in workers), job insecurity, and exposure to violence and abuse in the workplace.”

What most domestic workers in Nigeria experienced in their line of duty are slavery, sex trafficking, abduction, rape, physical abuse and imprisonment. Most are not paid or underpaid, those who are young are denied quality education. The social media is filled with tales of abuse on domestic workers by their employees.

We totally condemned this growing trend and recommend that something drastic must be done to stem the trend. Due to illiteracy, poverty and the crave for rural-urban migration, some parents blindly let out their children to urban dwellers who promises adequate welfare. There is need to discourage such motive for rural-urban migration.

As comprehensive as the National Employment Policy, the document did not provide for the protection of domestic workers. WE advised that there should be a review of the NEP to incorporate the welfare of domestic workers. However incorporating into the policy is not enough guarantee for their protection, there should be strict monitoring and enforcement of the policy.

In spite the social contribution of these domestic workers to the society, they would rather add more value to the economy if they engaged with vocational training. Furthermore, technical education should be encouraged, standardised and made available at little cost for the public, especially those in the rural areas.

Those who engage in brutally violating domestic staff or made them go through inhuman act should be made to face the wrath of the law.

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