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Passive victims or empowered actors: Accommodating the needs of child domestic workers

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Legal regulation of child employment takes a particular focus, with concern surrounding children’s right to protection from exploitative work. Using domestic work as a case study, this article demonstrates that there is little or no consideration of the possibility that children discovered in domestic work, are there as a result of their own autonomous decision to enter what they view as an employment arrangement. Instead, there is often an assumption that these children have been trafficked. A child’s right to be heard under Article 12, UNCRC, and their right to protection from exploitative employment under Article 32, UNCRC, are relevant to this discussion, as are the decisions made for the child on the basis of their best interests under Article 3, UNCRC. An alternative approach is suggested which may help to empower children, enabling well-informed employment decisions to be made, rather than only ever treating them as passive victims.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Law, Lancashire Law School, University of Central Lancashire, UK,


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