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Concert to highlight exploitation of child domestic workers

NGOs say a free concert at Wat Phnom will help raise awareness about the plight of the 21,000 children working as domestic helpers

CHILD WORKERS

World Vision and Licadho say that Cambodian children routinely leave their homes to work as servants in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kampong Cham and Siem Reap, where there are an estimated 21,000 minors employed as domestic helpers.

WAT Phnom is to play host to a public concert this afternoon as part of a campaign to raise public awareness of the dangers faced by the Kingdom's underage domestic workforce.

The concert, organised by World Vision Cambodia (WVC) and Cambodian rights group Licadho, is the fourth such event to highlight the plight of child workers under the core theme, "I Protect Children, Do You?"

"The concert is intended to highlight the rights of child domestic workers to education, health care, and protection from abuse and exploitation," said Lor Monirith, manager of the Combating Worst Forms of Child Labour project at WVC.

"The concert will include pop music, drama and comedy shows that reinforce messages about the rights of domestic workers."

The problem of child domestic workers cannot be ignored.

An invisible problem
Vann Sophath, deputy director of communications and advocacy at Licadho, said the issue of child employment would have far-reaching effects on the country's future.

"Child domestic workers are a problem that cannot be ignored," he said. "The government and society - especially homeowners who employ children - should make a conscious effort to stop domestic child labour."

Vann Sophath added that children in such jobs were more vulnerable than adults. "Child domestic workers may work in exploitive conditions, working far longer and earning much less than other labourers," he said.

Lor Monirith added that employment often stunted a child's ability to gain a good education and forge a better future for himself.

"Child domestic labour can have major consequences for children's health, safety and development, especially if they are deprived of an education," he said.

"The lack of an education will affect on a child's life forever, and it also weakens the Cambodian society and economy, since uneducated children will grow up to be uneducated adults."

Yim Po, executive director of the Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children's Rights, said that he was happy the two organisations were working together to raise awareness of the issue, expressing his hope that the "occasion of the Water Festival will attract children and parents, helping them understand the impact of domestic work [on children]".

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