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Published On: Mon, Mar 10th, 2014

NIALS advocate legislation to protect domestic workers

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By Sunday Ejike Benjamin

Participants at a colloquium on the regulation of house-help exploitation in Nigeria have called for appropriate legislation to address the maltreatment and abuse of house-helps in the country.

The colloquium, organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) assembled resource persons, stressed the needs for legal protection of house-helps, who are also referred to as domestic workers of the affluent Nigerians.

A NIALS’ research fellow, Jane Ezirigwe, who spoke on, “House help syndrome in Nigeria” observed that many countries of the world, including Nigeria exclude domestic workers in their legal protection, a situation, he said has led to abuse of this category of workers.

“Domestic workers remain underpaid, over worked and badly treated”, she noted and added that a recent International Convention recommended certain basic rights to domestic workers, pointing out that Nigeria is yet to ratify the convention and yet to provide adequate protection to its domestic workers.

In her paper, “Agency Concepts in House help/Master relationship”, another NIALS research fellow, Prudence Okparavero said, having house-helps has become an organised child trafficking as it now involves use of agencies for recruitment.

She said most of the recruitment agencies are involved in one form of child trafficking or the other, just as she noted that some of the recruitment agencies are not licenced by appropriate authorities to operate.

Gold Umobi, while speaking on abuse and exploitation of house-helps, said the child, like every other citizen of the country is entitled to certain fundamental rights as provided by the constitution.

She called for adequate sensitization on child’s right to assist in curbing violations of the rights of the Nigerian child, just as she also recommended a remedy for victims of rights violation.

Also in her paper, “Applicable laws regulating treatment of house-helps”, Adejoke Adediran said Nigeria’s labour law do not provide protection to domestic workers and called on the federal

government to ratify and domestic the international Workers’ Convention to give protection to domestic workers ion the country.

“It is expedient to have a uniform domestic workers’ law in the country”, she said.

Earlier, NIALS’ Director General, Prof Epiphany Azinge (SAN) said the colloquium was organised to tackle the issue of maltreatment of house-helps by their employers and added that, “at a time like this, it should be an anathema to call anybody a house-help or servant”.

He said the Institute is poised to set agenda in addressing the issue of the violation of the fundamental human rights of House-helps (comprising of drivers, cleaners, cooks, gardeners, etc) in the country.

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