Adiza ran scared and crying into the street. Ten years old and 4-foot-9, she fled the house where she had worked for more than a year, cleaning and sweeping from before dawn until late at night….
“I couldn’t take any more,” recalled Adiza, a slight girl with close-cropped hair and almond-shaped eyes, who talked in a halting whisper as she described how her employer beat her with her hands and with cooking pots before the November day she ran away.
The number of girls like Adiza, who leave their communities or even their countries to clean other people’s houses, has surged in recent years, according to labor and human rights specialists. The girls in the maid trade, some as young as 5, often go unpaid, and their work in private homes means the abuses they suffer are out of public view.
The International Labor Organization (ILO), a U.N. agency based in Geneva, said more girls under 16 work in domestic service than in any other category of child labor. The organization said that maids are among the most exploited workers and that few nations have adequate regulations to safeguard them.
Here’s a video describing the story of Shyima Hall, whose ordeal began at the age of ten: