There are an estimated 17.2 million child domestic workers globally, most of whom are girls. Despite their large numbers, research related to this marginalized group is extremely limited, with most of the existing research remaining at a small scale.

The Population Council, in partnership with The Freedom Fund and the US Department of State Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), conducted the largest-ever study to date examining child domestic work, interviewing 2,767 child domestic workers in specified locations of Addis Ababa.

The study, entitled “The prevalence of domestic servitude among child domestic workers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” sought to characterize the situations faced by child domestic workers; measure child domestic workers’ awareness, access—and barriers—to services; and shape decisions on interventions by local service providers and policymakers.

Researchers found significant levels of trafficking and hazardous, illegal labor. Children in the study are doing an average of 55 hours of domestic work per week, with 25% working over 70 hours and 40% not given a rest day. Nearly two-thirds (62%) were in conditions considered to be the worst forms of child labor. Over one-third (34%) of respondents reported emotional/psychological abuse from an employer, while 22% reported physical violence. Fifty-two percent of respondents were considered to be victims of human trafficking.

Findings of the study are being used to increase awareness of the situation of child domestic workers, to develop and improve programs to support child domestic workers, and to advocate for policies that prevent abuse and exploitation of children.