Forty per cent of domestic servants in India's financial capital are under 15 years of age and the number seems to be increasing at an alarming rate, according to a report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
"About 40 per cent of the domestic helps were girls under 15 years of age. A substantive section of domestic help comprises girls, working for precarious wages and their numbers appear to have increased," the Human Development Report compiled by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and UNDP said.
As per the 2001 Census, there were only 1,297 girls as main workers and 209 girls as marginal workers, which may not reflect the reality on ground. It appears that the official data on child labour is highly underestimated.
"Often these young domestic helpers are abused, verbally and physically and also sexually exploited," the report said. Also distributing is the manner in which a mother, who is a domestic help, takes a girl child as her unpaid assistant, finally leading the latter becoming a domestic servant, the report said.
If one considers children working in local trains, bus stops, grocery shops, shoe-shine boys, newspaper vendors, waste pickers, hawkers, vendors, domestic workers, baby sitters, coolies, helpers in shops, the real picture will emerge, it adds.