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Socio-demographic characteristics and public health status of child domestics: myths and reality for a safe community in Bangladesh
  1. Anwar Kazi Selim, *1,*,
  2. Mollah H Abid Hossain2,
  3. Monowar Syed Reaz3,
  4. Begum Ayesha4,
  5. Molla Azaher Ali5,
  6. Sengupta Pradip Kumar6,
  7. Gani Nurul7,
  8. Karim Syed Afzalul8
  1. 1Development Organization of Socio-economic, Health and Environmental Research (DOSHER), 701, Tongi Diversion Road, Moghbazar (Shifted at Punak Complex, 2nd Floor, 99/2, Moghbazar, Dhaka 1217, Bangladesh.
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, Dhaka Medical College Hosp & President, DOSHER
  3. 3ORNOB
  4. 4Faculty of Food Sc & Tech, Chittagong Veterinary & Animal Sciences University
  5. 5Department of Heath Economics, Dhaka University & EC -Member, DOSHER
  6. 6IMPACT Foundation Bangladesh
  7. 7Public Health Physician/Microbiologist & EC-member, DOSHER
  8. 8Dermatology, Holy Family Med College Hosp & Finance Director, DOSHER. Dhaka, Bangladesh
  9. (1*Recently joined as Coordinator, QI Program, CIPRB, H# B-162, Lane 23, New DOHS, Mohakhali, Dhaka 1206, Bangladesh)

    Abstract

    Background Despite ‘child domestic’ remains the worst victims of child-labour, few reports are published on this virtual slavery. However, It is crucial that their health/psycho-social-state are normal. We report here findings of socio-demographic-context and public-health status of such ‘hidden-exploited’-children in Bangladesh.

    Purpose Study socio-demographic characteristic and public health status of child domestics working in urban-Dhaka residences.

    Methods Cross-sectional survey on child-domestics from randomly-selected 90-households in nine areas in urban Dhaka. Data were collected employing house-to-house visit to interview child-domestics (household master/mistresses) using structured-questionnaire/checklists.

    Outcome All-these 113 child-domestics (mean age 11.7±2.2) came out from grossly-poor families/poverty-stricken areas and had no schooling, but few signed names, scrappily. While 42% non/relatives and19%parents brought them-in to such slavery, 36% masters/mistress trapped them in. Just for mere-wage of Tk.750–950(∼11–13 US$)/month, they look-after 4–6-member-families, 98% on verbal-agreement(wage and free-food/lodging). Nail was not trimmed in 81%, clothes were dirty in 76%, scabies in 46% and helminthiasis/anemia in 88%.Some 77% had no separate rooms to sleep,∼49% slept on floor/veranda and 69% on thin-mat/Kantha. While 89% work dawn-to-dusk (45% until late-night), with ½-1-hr interval when master's-family enjoy mid-day-nap. Nearly 67% never plays-out, 70% never saw a doctor, 35% sustained battering, 26% endured physical-torturing and 31% stayed-locked inside-out. Even-than 57% reportedly lived there happily (?).

    Significance/Contribution These-findings demonstrate that child-domestics, often deployed on verbal-agreement, sustain physical-torturing, endure psycho-social threats and suffer from ill-health. Even-than, extreme-poverty compel these child-domestics live happily. While we advocate banning this 'silently-exploited virtual-slaves', we recommend to accomplish it through phase-wise rehabilitation-programs, employing public-private partnerships approach.

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