South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

A great step forward was recently taken in ensuring the basic human rights of domestic workers in Bangladesh through the approval of the draft Domestic Worker Protection and Welfare Policy 2015.

This policy will classify domestic help as full-time and part-time workers, and allow them to avail the benefits of being part of a quasi-formal labour market, including set work hours, safe and healthy living conditions, and 16 weeks of maternity leave.

The policy also sets a much needed age limit for domestic workers in accordance with ILO labour standards, which suggests that children below a certain age can be engaged in light work in developing countries as long as it does not threaten their health and safety, or hinder their education or vocational orientation and training.

Most importantly, the draft policy strictly outlines that domestic helpers cannot be subject to physical and emotional abuse by their employers, and includes the plan to launch a helpline for domestic workers to provide them with assistance. This is a welcome proposal in a country where beating domestic workers is all too common a practice.

According to Ain O Salish Kendra, 46 cases of violence against domestic workers were reported from January to September this year, of which 19 resulted in death. However, only 13 cases were actually filed, and these are only the reported ones. More recently, the sensational case of cricketer Shahadat Hossain torturing the domestic help goes to show how casually these brutalities are committed in homes across the country.

More than 2 million women and children are currently a part of the domestic labour market in Bangladesh, and this move to protect their rights is a laudable move on the government’s part.

Updated On: December 24, 2015