Many domestic workers across the world endure conditions akin to slavery, from physical and psychological abuse to working for months without pay and being locked up, an international rights group said on Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch called on governments to make sure domestic workers receive the same legal protections as other employees and to hold their bosses and labour agents accountable for abuse.
"Migrants and children especially risk abuse," said Nisha Vary, a senior researcher from the group, adding that governments need to "better regulate working conditions, detect violations and impose meaningful civil and criminal sanctions."
The New York-based group, which looked at domestic workers in and from a dozen nations from Asia, to Africa, to the Middle East, said it carried out interviews with hundreds of victims, employees, labour agents and aid workers between 1999 and 2005.
The findings were published in a report titled "Swept Under the Rug: Abuses Against Domestic Workers Around the World."
Some said they worked up to 19 hours a day, endured rape and other forms of sexual abuse, were deprived of adequate nutrition, or were forced to forgo up to 10 months of their salaries putting them into debt before they started working.