Stella Dimoko Mrs Dee's Corner - The Misconceptions About Child Labour


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Friday, November 27, 2020

Mrs Dee's Corner - The Misconceptions About Child Labour

There are a lot of misconceptions about child labour.....

Some people term bringing in a child from another family to live with another family as child labour even when none of the child's human rights are abused and the house work given to the child is something he/she conveniently did in their parents' house. 

Experience has taught that nothing is as it seems and most situations which appear black or white may be interspersed with grey areas.

I lost my dad at the young age of 11 and from then it was very tough for my whole family. We only had our daily bread after hawking wares from street to major markets. No sales meant no food.

Each day started with helping my mum prepare for the day's sales as early as 4.00am, carrying it to the market then coming back home to prepare for school. I was always the lone student on my way to school and I was still punished for late coming after I got to school.

After school hours, I walked down to the market to continue hawking whatever was available to be sold and on getting home, we still had to prepare for the next day. I had no time to even read my books.

Judging from my story, the real child labour was happening in my home.

When it was time to write my O'level exams, my mum had to beg an elderly couple in church to take me into their home. In exchange, I would do all the chores in the house (which I was already used to), run errands and have time to study.

Staying with them was far better than living with my mum and even though I was constantly reminded of the advantages staying with them afforded me, I knew I didn't want to go back to the severe hardship at home. So I made up my mind to stick it out.

Anyone who saw me then and cried foul because they felt I was forced into child labour would be completely wrong.

Not only did I stop hawking, I had time to sleep, read my books and eating three meals a day was sure.

It's worthy to note that there are bad guardians who violate the human rights of their wards and force them to work for money, but it would be unfair to tag all underaged children living with other families who ensure they are well taken care of and enrolled in schools as child labour,when in essence, the guardian has only helped to ease the strain on their parents and give the child a conducive environment to thrive.


  1. I couldn't help but agree with MRS DEE that in terms of child labour and helping out a child to be the best they could become, not everything is black and white..
    Well done!!!!

  2. Mrs Dee.....I am grateful to God that it went well, whilst there are exceptions to the rule, Let us not sugarcoat things. Child Labour is evil. If the couple wanted to help, then they could have helped pay your school fees without you having to work for it. If laws worked in this country, it will never be allowed. I do not employ anyone above the age of 18 to be my maid. There is no work a ten year old wants to do for me that is satisfying. If people truly desire to help a child, then help. Dont wait for the child to pay back in labour. Child labour is evil.

    1. Shining star, how many kids have u helped? Or don't u see kids hawking in ur area? U just talk for talking sake. If her school fees are being paid, how about feeding well, good clothing, better shelter and protection from molesters, etc. U think the mother have time to watch what happens in her life? If the 10yr old is in her mother's house, won't she do house chores? Rubbish. U have not seen parents that have more children that they can take care of, and their earnest prayer is for someone to help them take care of their responsibility. Read to understand biko

    2. Some times change of environment is the best for a child. It is not all about paying school fees. I know of a woman who pays her kids school fees despite them staying with her sister.

    3. Thank you pwetie

      You have written well Mrs. Dee

    4. For doing the same work she would have done if she was in her parents' house but with a better standard of living? Abeg park well.

    5. Well said pwetie and Mrs dee
      We had helps that lived with us (not as young as 5 but don't know their ages) we the kids did similar chores. Mom still trained them to university. Now they're married they still come over and she still gifts them

  3. If the chore is age appropriate and the treatment is humane, no problem. Child labour is synonymous with child abuse and that is what we fight against.

  4. Poster, let me help you since you sound like you don't understand the real point of those who speak up against child labour.


    A woman loosing her husband is NOT a good excuse to rob the children of their childhood and place heavy burdens on their shoulders. My take is the number of children to be born should be determined by the the economic capacity of the woman in case she ever finds herself alone for whatever reason.
    I understand your point, poster but that you found it easier away from home does not make what you endured at home excusable. I have many friends who went through hell just because their father died when they were very young. I know one who's uncle started defiling from when she was 9 and her mom couldn't say Pim because she was also looking up to this her brother to help her raise her children and give her hand outs.

    Child labour is ugly and the root of child Labour is parents who refuse to to have the number of children they can take care of.

    1. This is so true for the post above, a girl of 12 came to stay with us, at the time were all grown and left to uni. We have a cook, gateman and cleaner. She was the last of 9 children and it was to help the burden. She goes to school evryday and returns home, all she does is set the table in the morning warm the dogs food at night and open the door for the cook to come in evry morning. Frankly when I was 12 I had more chores than her. Someone looking from outside would think she is being forced into labour. Even though she had a comfortable environment she still always failed. They will be begging her to read. I wonder what goes through her head when she goes to visit her siblings, that she will live with us forever? the skirts are getting shorter and the make up getting more, this is year 2 of failed jamb. She is now so rude too. We are begging the parents to send her home before we hear stories that touch, if she manages to get in they can pay from afar abeg. Meanwhile a girl before finished made a first class uni and now works in a multinational in lagos, not evryone wants to be helped sha. Sometimes it’s ok to drink water and face front.

  5. No matter how you want to coat it, child labour is child labour ma.

  6. Child labor is what most parents make their children undergo in the name of hawking, hard chores et Al. It is the parents responsibilities to cater for their wards not the other way round. If only we have working system in Nigeria, the issue of child labor will be reduced to minimal. The more reason why couple should give birth to number of children they can cater for.

    1. The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that: is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children;

  7. Tueh matter how you sugar coat it chikd labour is still child labour. Imagine an 8 year old looking after a baby? Can a baby look after a baby? Or even going on errands by 8pm...or fetching water with 20ltrs jerrycan...

    Some women even take underage girls as a result of the man dog they married.

    1. Hmmm,go to some homes,most 8yrs old kids take care of their siblings.Some will carry them till they get home after playing, the child won't touch ground.., especially these village kids.

  8. Well written.
    Your opinion contradicted itself. Because it failed to clearly define what child labour is in the charters of both the United nations and UNICEF. In both instance you went through an experience of child labour. From you home, it was necessitated by constrain in finance. Thoughtful, no financially stable parents would let their child go through that. But in the situation where the tide is high and the storm roars, how else do you survive other than swimming against the tide and through the storm.
    In your second experience, you still went through child labour. Only that in this instance the family were much more comfortable than where you were cing from. Because the kind of and the hours or minutes of work you did, the children of those God fearing parents didn't commit to the same. That you still did most of the works, that ought to be rationed amongst siblings alone, highlighted the labour you sacrificed at such young age. You were lucky to have such a nice family. We know that in most situations, the stories are often not kind to the bearer.

    I'd say you experience two opposing ends of growing up between a more comfortable family with kindness and a very much struggling family with kindness too. If your home had the financial landing your second family had, you'd have even be treated better.
    Nice write up, child labour is child labour no matter the comfort. Do you know what it means to wake a 10 year old by 6am to carry wares & food items trekking from Oshodi to Olorunshogo area of mushin every week (except Sundays), until I was 13? For my mom's side hustle. And still have to return to wash dishes, and prepare for school? Those were joyful sacrifices many adults today sacrificed for their parents towards their earning an extra income to augment the respective salaries that was earned. Back then, there were hardly flats, just face me I face you. When I tell my 8ys today that he is enjoying, he wouldn't understand.

  9. Mentioning that you had a better life with the other family and even stopped HAWKING may not be enough for people who dont see that child labour/child abuse can occur even with your parents and if a child has a better future with another family,they should not be deprived of that ONCE THEY ARE BEING TREATED RIGHT!

  10. Not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s or adolescents’ participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.

    The term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. It refers to work that:
    is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and/or
    interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
    The worst forms of child labour involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age. Whether or not particular forms of “work” can be called “child labour” depends on the child’s age, the type and hours of work performed, the conditions under which it is performed and the objectives pursued by individual countries. The answer varies from country to country, as well as among sectors within countries...... International labour organisation (ILO)

    Do a little research before posting anything, it won't bite you.

    1. Alexander your comment is in no way contrary to what I stated up there, and I did research before sending this in.

      The message I am trying to pass across is I was exposed to all that you mentioned up there while living with my mum and had a 'normal' life while living with supposedly outsiders who should have been the ones exploiting me.

      So the norm of people crying 'blue murder' when a child is seen living with another family other than theirs is unfounded.
      As long as the child is enrolled in a good school, feeds well and is only allowed to do chores within her age range, then it is not child labour as is mostly misquoted.

      I hope this clarifies my view.

      MRS DEE

    2. Mrs DEE, l guess yours was an exception. You were fortunate to live with a couple with good hearts. The outcry is because of the level of extreme wickedness. I know of a little girl of 10, who was responsible for cleaning the house but she was not allowed to use the toilet and bathroom. She had to come down from the storey building to have her bath and poo in a cellophane. She was always the last to leave for school. Eventually she ran away.

  11. Thank you Mrs Dee. Some people didn't know this.
    When growing up and in primary and secondary school you live at home and do the house chores, save for the ones who hire house helps to clean up.
    At this stage we had a cousin living with us, we all shared the chores.
    Fastforward to when we all grown and either left the house or in uni, our parents got two cousins in primary school living with them doing the chores too, no body is sending them to go hawk or do hard labour outside or within the house, you call this child labour? Not at all, cos they are better in their new home, they can eat 3 meals a day, education taken care of, clothing taken care of, so house chores won't be labour just because it is not their parents house. Child that doesn't fetch water cos water is running everywhere in the house, when we were younger we didn't have such luxury, to clean house go become hard labour no na.
    Even if they have to help the guidance sell in a store, as long as they make use of their time properly,(there is time for everything).
    Except they are being sent out to hawk, fend for what they will eat & beaten badly before you can say they are being maltreatment.

  12. Child labour is awful,you where priviledge to have gotten into such family. Most children sent out early never had such opportunity instead the reverse was the case. Few people are good taken care of other children as theirs I pray God rewards them.

    If you genuinely take other people children to assist them, I pray God bless you. I stayed with my aunt when I was young, she gave me the best without stressing me. Let's learn to assist if we can and not always expect to get paid back in kind.

  13. Thanks for this write up. I left my house when I was 7 years, stayed with one of my aunt who dealt with me. I go to school by ten o'clock every day after doing all the huge house work. I started pounding fufu, washing her two children cloth five times, fetching water to fill everything in the house everyday at the age of 7. She even had to put me in an evening school so that I will work throughout the day and go to school in the evening.

    Thank God for another aunt of mine who took me away from her house when she saw what I was going through. She registered me in d same school her kids attends, I started wearing nice clothes, making hair etc we also had an adult maid that attends to us. I even had to choose anything she bought before her kid do. She took care of me much more than my parents would have done. I am still grateful to her till this day. So you see sometimes children are better off staying with others who can assist them especially the less privileged ones, but how many people are willing to offer help to others without making them pay for it.

  14. Thanks so much Mrs Dee,some people once they hear the age of a child your are living with ,they will be like ooh child's labour what should be the issue here is the work giving to the child,if it's appropriate for the age,it should be normal children's chores

  15. As Mrs Dee said, this matter is between black and white. All those who scream blue murder about child labour, what have they done to help children in need? And those who had terrible experiences, what have they done to ensure that they have only the number of children they can feasibly provide for?


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