Beyond the ‘horror stories’ and ‘rescue missions’: The realities of child domestic work in South-West Nigeria

Olayiwola, Peter Olusanjo (2021) Beyond the ‘horror stories’ and ‘rescue missions’: The realities of child domestic work in South-West Nigeria. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis offers a critical assessment of dominant child trafficking, child labour and child domestic work narratives using a case study of children in domestic work in South-West Nigeria. Based on a multi-sited ethnography spanning six months, this thesis confirms that some of these children face adverse situations in their work, but also shows that the work is characterised by many benefits for individuals without viable alternatives and functional social protection systems. The thesis contends that child domestic work cannot be properly understood and properly addressed (where it is problematic) without addressing the structures that underpin it. The perceptions and decisions of parents, children, adult caretakers, and intermediaries around the involvement of children in paid and unpaid domestic labour are examined through a post-colonial perspective to reveal that the present dominant focus on supply related factors (such as poverty and ignorance) as popularly presented is too narrow to understand the phenomenon. Instead, child domestic work is better understood through the lens of an informal support system that exists and thrives in the absence of a state welfare system to address the demand and supply factors as they affect different actors. However, the dominant child rescue narrative obscures these socio-economic contexts and complexities as they are guided by assumptions and stereotypes that in most cases run parallel to, and misrepresent, the realities of these children and/or their families. Thus, the main challenge for the child rescue narrative is not to rescue children from what it denotes as exploitative child labour or child domestic work, but from the conditions that produce it. Based on the foregoing, the thesis argues that this relates to a broader call for equity on a global scale, which includes addressing the paternalistic ideologies and institutions which underpin child rescue missions.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Okyere, Samuel
Bott, Esther
Keywords: Child Domestic Work, Child Trafficking, Child Labour, Anti-trafficking, Nigeria
Subjects: H Social sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 64318
Depositing User: Olayiwola, Peter
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2021 04:40
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2022 04:30

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