Please note the fifth part of an essay at POLITICS .
The Tea Turned Cold in the Cup,
or, Why Women’s Work is No Work
When we read that many millions of young children in developing countries have to toil for their living, we are outraged; and when we learn that teenage boys often continue in forced labour while girls are usually forced into marriage, our outrage increases. However, we officially stop counting the child brides as child workers – because they ‘only’ do chores in their ‘own’ homes.
This policy of the International Labour Organization has been branded ‘insulting’ and ‘nonsensical’ by campaigner Stephen Lewis. We have learned to identify child marriage as child abuse; yet we have failed to identify domestic chores as child labour.
When we hear that in many regions of the world, girls must walk for hours to fetch water or firewood, so that they arrive at school late or exhausted, we do not fool ourselves for a moment about their ‘equal opportunities’, even where those are granted by law or where schooling is free.