Exploration of the Means of Getting to the City and Getting Employed among Young Female Domestic Workers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


While domestic workers in the city of Dar es Salaam are viewed to be mostly young girls from villages outside the city, very little is understood about how the girls at their tender age, and with limited experiences, manage to arrive in the city. Knowledge of how they are linked to employers is also inadequate. Drawing on the migration network theory, the article explores the means employed by the young female domestic workers to get to the city and to get linked to different employers in the city. It reveals support from parents, relatives, drivers, conductors and brokers as central modes of getting to the city and unveils informal employment agencies and brokers as significant means through which they get connected to different employers. The author recommends prompt measures to curb different means of trafficking and employing the young girls as domestic workers which violate their rights.

Share and Cite:

Kerega, P. (2019) Exploration of the Means of Getting to the City and Getting Employed among Young Female Domestic Workers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 7, 95-144. doi: 10.4236/jss.2019.74009.

1. Introduction

Estimates indicate more than 52.6 million people worldwide working as domestic workers as their primary job [1] [2] . In Africa, about 5.2 million people are viewed to be employed as domestic workers [2] . Domestic work is known as a heavily female dominated sector [3] with women accounting for 83 percent of the workers [2] . The sector employs 7.5 percent of female employees globally and is a significant source of wage employment for women [1] . In Africa, domestic work is also a feminized sector, despite isolated cases from few countries particularly Egypt and Algeria where the sector has been viewed to be male dominated since the colonial time [2] . Of 5.2 million people estimated to be employed as domestic workers in Africa, 3.8 million are women whereas men account for only 1.4 million [2] .

According to the Rapid Empirical Survey of the United Republic of Tanzania [4] , 75 percent of the domestic workers in the country are women whereas men account for only 25 percent. Domestic work is acknowledged as largely an urban phenomenon [ [5] : p. 4]. While in some countries of the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe an overwhelming majority of domestic workers are externally recruited or migrants from economically poor countries [2] [6] [7] , in Africa, majority of domestic workers are local migrants who migrate within the same country, usually from rural to urban in pursuit of job opportunities [ [8] : p. 16]. It is argued that their desire to migrate includes the prospect of getting employment opportunities and better life [ [9] : p. 1].

In both developing and developed countries, the domestic work sector is deemed to be socially and economically potential [ [2] : p. 23, [5] : p. 12]. Domestic workers are recognized as the primary caregivers for children and family members [10] . In the developed countries for instance, the demand for the domestic workers is viewed to be increasing because of aging population and cutbacks in welfare state provisions [ [11] : p. 13]. In Tanzania, domestic workers are recognised as providers of a range of services including but not limited to caring for the elderly, infants, children, disabled and sick family members, sweeping, shopping, cooking food, cleaning and ironing while living in employers’ homes or working part-time [ [4] : p. 5, [5] ].

Although in some regions such as Latin America domestic work as a sector is viewed to be ageing because of an increase in average years of schooling and availability of alternative jobs to the youth [12] , evidence shows that about half of the female domestic workers globally are young females of childbearing age [2] [12] , ranging from 15 to 24 years [13] . Studies show that in Tanzania, the majority of domestic workers are young females who are socially known as “dada wa kazi” (house girls) or (housemaids) [14] [15] . The majority (84 per cent) are so-called live-in-domestic workers [4] because of staying and working in the houses of their employers all the time as their new physical and social environment [ [16] : p. 836].

Focusing on employment of female domestic workers in Ghana, the conducted study revealed that informal agencies and brokers play multiple roles in their labour market including helping them in settling in urban areas, negotiating better wages and working conditions despite exploiting them [17] . Most studies however have tended to concentrate more on the reasons for their migration and working environments [see for example, [1] [2] [4] [5] ]. While such studies are remarkably important, much attention has not been paid to central issues of getting to the city and getting employed. In Tanzania for instance, although the conducted studies reveal issues such as economic exploitation and violence against young female domestic workers [5] [9] [12] and exposure to HIV transmission [9] [16] , presently there is little or no enough knowledge on how the young female domestic workers with limited experiences in the city of Dar es Salaam arrive in the city. Information about how they are linked to employers is also insufficient. Hence, the aim of this article is to add insights into how the young female domestic workers get to the city of Dar es Salaam and the connection to different employers.

2. Theoretical Framework

As an attempt to explain labour movement or migration, numerous theories have been advanced by numerous theorists [see for example, [18] - [23] ]. Most of these theorists however have tended to focus more on reasons for the migration and less on how they migrate. The classical theorist Adam Smith for instance attributed labour migration to poverty and unemployment emanating from imbalances in the labour market [24] . Neo classical theory portrays migration as being motivated essentially by financial and psychological considerations [ [25] : p. 342, [26] : p. 4]. Because of imbalance in the distribution of capital and labour as well as wage differentials and living conditions, migrants tend to move toward locations where employment and economic conditions particularly wages are favourable [21] [26] [27] [28] .

While the neo classical theorists linked labour migration to the wage differentials in employment, the dual labour market theory assumes the migration as being driven by employers’ demands in advanced countries or governments acting on their behalf [29] . Wallerstein’s [1974] world system theory attributes the causes of migration to global structural and international processes which led to unequal development between the centre (developed) and the periphery (agricultural or poor) countries. The theory highlights that the motive behind the migration is the penetration of global capital into periphery countries. Thus, labour movement follows the flow of capital and goods, but in opposite direction [23] [30] [31] .

Focussing on why people migrate, Lee [1966] advanced push and pull factors as most important reasons for migration, considering push as negative factors in places of origin or where migrants come from and pull as positive factors in the destination or where migrants move to. According to Lee (op.cit), in addition to push and pull factors at both the origin and destination points, the migration process may be hindered by intervening obstacles or cultural and physical/environmental factors [18] [26] .

While the highlighted theories could be useful in explaining why migrants move from one location to another, the migration network theory focuses on how they migrate. The theory considers labour movement as a network process in which the migrants help each other by communicating with close family members and friends who provide them with financial assistance and even assisting to find jobs for them after exchanging information [32] . In some countries such as Ethiopia and Ghana, domestic labour supply has been facilitated by licensed and unlicensed intermediaries or the networks of friends, relatives, brokers, transport providers, insurance companies and employers involved in the business [17] [33] .

For the purpose of this article, the migration network theory seems to be a more appropriate analytical tool towards gaining an understanding of how the young female domestic workers migrate in the local context: from rural areas to the city of Dar es Salaam and how they get employed. The theory maintains that social interaction and communication facilitate the movement by reducing the costs and risks [34] [35] [36] . It holds that since network formation is outside government control, it is difficult for the government to control the movement. The theory also admits the possibility of migrating through improper means that result in hardships which ultimately expose them to violence and exploitation [32] . In numerous studies, evidence also reveals that female domestic workers have been exposed to multiple forms of exploitation and violence manifested in excessive working hours, low wages, sexual harassment, physical and verbal abuse [2] [5] [6] .

3. Context of the Study and Methodology

The materials on which the article is based are part of the research findings undertaken between May 2017 and July 2018 as part of a larger research project entitled, “Competing Discourses Impacting Girls and Women Rights: Safe Abortion and Fertility Control in Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania (SAFEZT)” sponsored by the Research Council of Norway. The author’s project which was undertaken in Tanzania, focused on fertility control among young female domestic workers in Dar es Salaam region as a case study. The region is known to attract domestic workers from all over the country owing to its better economic potential. The study focus was the live-in young female domestic workers, popularly known as “dada wa kazi” (house girls). Conducting research in a specific social environment is recommended for capturing a depth of the experiences of those centrally involved [37] [38] .

The term domestic workers in this article are used interchangeably with domestic labourers. Domestic workers or labourers are viewed as “hard to reach and hence, hard to count population” due to informality in employment relationship [ [2] : p. 11, [5] : p. 34, [11] : p. 13]. Considering that fact, a flexible methodology was deemed appropriate. Hence, a qualitative research approach with an emergent design [ [39] [40] [41] : p. 7] was adopted. An emergent or flexible design which usually evolves as further insights are gained through data collection and analysis in the field [40] was important towards adjusting the research process as a situation was learnt in the field. The design was useful towards focusing more on addressing the research questions as insights were gained from the study participants [ [40] : p. 30, [41] : p. 7].

3.1. Study Participants and Sampling

The study involved thirty two young female domestic workers. Of these, eighteen were aged between fifteen and eighteen years whereas fourteen were above eighteen up to twenty six years. The informants also varied in terms of educational background and marital status. In terms of education, majority (twenty eight) were dropouts and failures of either primary or secondary school education which they attributed to economic hardship, loss of parents, lack of social support, pre-mature pregnancies, distance from home to school and desire to look for better life in towns. Most (thirty) were employed when they were under eighteen years. Few (only two) were above eighteen when they got employed.

The informants’ experiences in domestic labour ranged from one to six years depending on their age. Those with age ranging from fifteen to eighteen years had experience ranging from one to three years while those above eighteen to twenty six years had two up to six years work experience. Although majority reported to be single or unmarried, three unmarried informants had delivered outside wedlock before getting employed and had children at home. Furthermore, divorced and widowed were two respectively. The common character about all informants was lack of a formal contract of employment. The oral agreements which they claimed to have were in terms of instructions on what they were supposed to do and avoid while working as domestic workers. Description of study informants is presented in Table 1.

Additional information was gathered through interviews with five employers. All were female. Two were government employees and had attained secondary education. Three engaged in informal activities. Of these, two had attained secondary education and one attained primary school education. Personnel from organizations that dealt with issues relating to domestic workers such as employment were also engaged in the study to gain insight as to how they were addressing issues of domestic workers’ employment in the city. Relevant personnel consulted were: one informant from: CHODAWU: Conservation, Hotels, Domestic and Allied Workers’ Union of Tanzania, two from the Police Gender Desk, one from the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA), one from Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) and one from one Agency (name withheld for ethical reason). All engaged in domestic work services in the City. Participants who are deemed knowledgeable on issues under investigation may be recruited in social science research [ [42] : p. 83]. The participants included in the study from each category were not known before the study was carried out. Rather, they were recruited as it was learnt about where and whom to ask in the field due to flexibility in the adopted research design [ [42] : p. 51, 223].

3.2. Research Procedure

Before the execution of the study, a research clearance was obtained from the Institute of Social Work (A government institution established by the National Social welfare Training Institute Act No. 26 of 1973 (as amended by the Miscellaneous Act No. 3 of 2002). Initially, after receiving the research clearance the challenge encountered was how to access required informants owing to informality in

Table 1. Description of study informants.

Source: Field Research, 2018.

employment relationship. To overcome the challenges of accessing informants in different households or the families they worked for, identification and recruitment of informants were done through a Trade Union for the domestic workers in Tanzania known as “CHODAWU”, an acronym for “Conservation, Hotels, Domestic and Allied Workers’ Unions of Tanzania.” The regional office of the union is located at Kinondoni district in Dar es Salaam.

The union had contact with some domestic workers, particularly those who sought assistance because of disputes with employers. After getting the permission from the union leadership, recruitment of the participants found at the union premises was also possible through the union leadership. To gain focused in-depth insights regarding how the young female domestic workers arrived in the city of Dar es Salaam and got employed, semi-structured in-depth interviews [43] were conducted with thirty two female domestic workers who varied in terms of age, educational background and experience in domestic labour as shown in Table 1. In addition to the semi-structured interviews, two focus group discussions (one with six and another with eight participants) were conducted to confirm consistency and clarity of the collected information.

Before interviews, every participant was informed about the objectives of the study and assured confidentiality of the information given by not revealing identity. Oral informed consents were obtained from all participants [39] . Most preliminary interviews with domestic workers at the union revealed information relating to termination of employment. The first contacted informants assisted in getting additional informants whom they knew and whom they agreed to come with to the union office at convenient days. The contact with the union was through mobile calls. Five employers of the domestic workers who visited the CHODAWU office were also interviewed on different days at the union premises. Before the interviews, oral informed consents were also obtained from all participants after informing them about the objectives of the study. Interviews with participants were conducted on the basis of their relevant experiences and willingness to participate in interviews [44] [45] [46] .

The interviews lasted for about forty five minutes to one and half hours and the process was guided by an interview guide in Kiswahili language. Qualitative interviews and FGD’s data were recorded textually and some audio recorded data were transcribed in Swahili and later translated from Kiswahili into English language. Translation of data was followed by analysis to observe the recurrent patterns of the material. Themes for analyzing data emerged through reading and re-reading of the transcripts which was also important for cross-checking the consistency of the collected information. Analysis of data was done on the basis of a framework approach [47] , generally inductive but taking into account the pre-set aims and objectives and emergent issues [48] . The approach allows thematic analysis of data as well as data collection and analysis to take place concurrently in the field [ [48] [49] : p. 75].

4. Results

4.1. Getting to the City

In the course of the interviews, young female domestic workers were asked about where they came from and how they got into the city. The informants’ narratives revealed arrival from villages outside the region of Dar es Salaam. Few, who reported to have originated in Dar es Salaam, were the live-out domestic workers and were not the study focus and therefore excluded from the study. Reasons for departing from villages to the city of Dar es Salaam were varied among the informants. They included economic hardships and social problems at home such as family breakdown, death of parents, social exclusion after getting pregnant, divorce, and relatives’ promises of finding jobs for them and educating them. With regards to how they arrived in the city, variations were also observed regarding the means or modes of arrival. Emerged modes were: through parental support, relatives, neighbour support, brokers, bus conductors and truck drivers. The highlighted modes are indicated in Figure 1.

4.1.1. Parents, Relatives and Neighbour Support

According to informants, despite parental support, relatives who assisted them to get to the city included sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles and in-laws. Some informants mentioned neighbours and friends. The relatives, friends and neighbours lived either in the villages where they came from or in the city of Dar es Salaam as revealed by the following narratives:

“After completing primary education my results were not good. When my aunt came from Dar es Salaam, she asked my parents to allow me to come with her to the city ... I had no help … my parents are poor. She promised to find employment for me ... after one year I got employed ... She knows my employer” (Interview informant 11: May, 2017).

Source: Field research, 2018.

Figure 1. Modes of getting to the city.

“My sister sent me money for transport ... I stayed with her in the city for about two years and then she linked me to my employer...”(Interview informant 2: June, 2017).

“I got financial help from my uncle ... he lives in the village I came from .... I asked him for the money for personal use. I spent it for transport, ... I travelled by bus. On arrival at the city, I was picked up by my friend ... she works in a bar” (Interview informant 8: May, 2017).

4.1.2. Brokers

Informants who reported to have arrived to the city through brokers were of two categories: those who were linked up directly with employers through brokers residing in villages of origin and those who were directed to the agencies in the city by brokers from their villages and thereafter got connected to employers in the city through the agencies. This means that some of them got exposure to potential employers who visited the agencies to look for employees as exemplified by the following quotation:

“... I had a very difficult life, ... I have no parents, Kahemele (broker) gave me fare ..., he lives in my village .... before departing he gave a driver (truck driver) his mobile number ... On arrival in the city, the driver called him back and moments later someone came to meet us and we went together to Mwananyamala (at the agency’s office) by Bajaji ... that is where I slept. I have no relative in the city” (Interview informant 3: June, 2017).

From the informants’ narratives, brokers (dalali) signified individuals who negotiated with their parents, guardians, close relatives or with them to work in informal business as domestic labourers in the city. As intermediaries in domestic work employment, the brokers worked as negotiators, dealers, agents or sometimes as traffickers when they played the role of transporting some girls directly to employers in the city or indirectly through informal agencies or companies in the city.

4.1.3. Drivers and Conductors

The means of informants’ transport from their villages to the city of Dar es Salaam was mainly by bus and in some instances through long distance vehicles or trucks in some regions such as Iringa and Singida. Some informants’ narratives particularly those with social network in the city revealed that they fled from their villages with the support of bus conductors and truck drivers when parents refused to give them money for transport or forbade them to travel to the city.

4.2. Means of Getting Employed

With regard to how they got employed after arrival in the city, their narratives revealed that getting employed was not a straight forward process. While some expressed getting employed through relatives such as aunts, uncles, sisters, friends and village neighbours living in the city, some claimed to have been connected with employers through brokers and others through agencies that supplied domestic labour in the city. From their narratives, their employers, whom they claimed to be mostly women, varied in terms of their employment status. As indicated in Table 2, some informants claimed to have been employed by government employees while some mentioned their employers to be engaged in informal activities whereas some pointed out that their employers’ status of employment were unknown.

The informants’ portrayal of how they got employed and nature of employers also revealed their variations in terms of origin, age and their work experience as also pointed out elsewhere in this article. Descriptions of the informants regarding to how they got employed and nature of employers are summarized in Table 3:

4.3. Recruitment Agencies and Brokers

Informal agencies and brokers were the chief modes of getting employment highlighted by most informants. In this context “agency” connotes a company that engaged in an informal domestic labour business in the city. Two agencies or companies that engaged in informal business of domestic labour supply in the city were identified through snowball sampling technique. Although the Management of the two agencies were consulted for interview, oral informed consent was obtained from one agency only on condition that the name of the agency and its location were confidential.

4.3.1. Agency and Brokers as Middlemen

According to the agency administration, the agency supplied domestic labour for family care through cooperation with brokers (dalali). As dealers of house work employment, the agency and brokers played the role of middlemen by linking seekers of domestic work employment to employers in need of them in the city. People familiar with the agency, who wished to employ individuals from the agency, could consult the agency administration to negotiate about required individuals and those unfamiliar could be guided by brokers familiar with the agency. The informant succinctly narrated as follows:

“When they arrive, they stay at the office ... getting employment is difficult, ... they don’t know where to start, they depend on the agency as a gateway to employers ... a person looking for house girls may consult the agency or brokers who also know our place...” (Interview informant 35: July, 2017).

Seekers of domestic labour could stay at the agency premises before they got

Source: Field research, 2018.

Table 2. Domestic workers’ employers and relationship.

Table 3. Informant means of getting employed and employer.

Source: Field research, 2018.

employed on conditions that: they were eighteen years or above, had introduction letters from village or local government where they came from, three passport size photographs (for identification), two passport size photographs of a guarantor or contact person (close relative) to be held responsible in case of problems, and consent letters from husbands for married girls.

However, apart from the agency and brokers in the city, some interviewed employers claimed to have employed domestic workers through brokers residing in different villages outside the region of Dar es Salaam and, directly or indirectly through relatives and neighbours from their own villages as indicated in Table 3. It was also noted that after getting employed, a domestic worker could also be shifted by a broker from where she was employed to a new employer through clandestine arrangement with the broker. In such a scenario, the domestic worker could lie to her employer that she had a problem at home or use other means in order to leave. Some domestic workers maintained sexual relationship with brokers who provided them with financial support as revealed by the following quotation:

“A caring sexual partner is admirable. When my employer delays payment and I have no money, I text him and he sends me money ... he is a broker (dalali), I got employment through him…. I fear to break down the relationship with him because he can request his money back” (Interview informant 3: June, 2017).

The agency also worked through brokers residing in different regions in the country. As pointed out elsewhere in this article, brokers resided in the villages from which the informants came as well as in the city of Dar es Salaam. Although the informant claimed that access to the agency was free of charge to both male and female job seekers, the reviewed documents in the agency registry indicated that the registered female were more than male and the documents did not indicate where they came from although the informant claimed that majority were from Dodoma, Iringa, Singida, Tanga and Tabora regions. Job seekers by year as per the agency registry documents are shown in Table 4.

In the course of the research, several young girls of about 15 to 24 years old were observed around the agency premises. Some luggage claimed to belong to

Table 4. Agency job seekers by year.

Source: Agency Registry Documents, July, 2018.

them were also observed in the agency’s office. The informant stated that some girls slept in the office while some were accommodated in the nearby guest houses temporarily before they got employed. The agency incurred the cost for accommodating them. It was also noted that apart from informal domestic labour supply in the city, the agency was a registered company dealing with auctioning of plots of land for construction of houses.

4.3.2. Agency as a Designer of Agreement Form

Despite playing the role of middleman in informal domestic labour employment, the agency prepared agreement forms assumed to be employment contracts. The forms were filled out and signed by potential employers after having consented with the agency administration about the issues contained therein. Potential employer had to read through the content and then sign the form and leave it in the agency’s office. Neither employer nor employee got a copy of it. Issues contained in the observed forms were universal. They included: amount of payment, grounds for termination and expiry period. For example, it was stated that payment was conditional to age and experience. For a local domestic worker, the required payment ranged from Tshs 50,000 to 100,000 (equivalent to US dollar 22 to 43) depending on experience in domestic labour. For a non-Tanzania citizen, payment ranged from 150,000 to 200,000 Tshs (approximately from 66 to 87 US dollars).

The forms also required employers to pay the agency some amount of money treated as agency operational cost after receiving a house worker from the agency. The money paid as operational cost was equivalent to one month salary to be paid to a domestic worker. However, on the agreement forms observed, issues relating to hours of work, maternity leave, sick leave or social security of domestic labourers were not indicated and the agency leadership argued that such issues were agreed upon by employers and domestic workers.

The informant unveiled additional issues relating to various preferences of employers that were excluded from the agreement forms but negotiable between the agency and potential employers. According to the informant, some employers, particularly male had additional requirements for the potential domestic workers they wanted that were in most cases different from those of female employers. Male preferences differed from those of female employers. The differences were based on the following criteria: morphology or body structure (such as thin, tall), facial image (such as smiling face with romantic eyes, polite or calm), skin colour (black, moderate black, white with soft skin), age (young, order), religion (Christian, Muslim), origin and so forth. The informant’s portrayal regarding to the ideal domestic workers preferred by male employers was narrated in the following quotation:

“Employers’ conditions are many, some desire Christians, others Muslims. Male employers desire those with romantic eyes ... most female employers prefer ugly girls, unattractive to their husbands. Sometimes girls with worried or confused faces are not preferred by male employers, these are perceived as signs of hidden problems confronting them. What employers want are house girls to work for them and not to engage themselves in solving their problems ... those with problems are left out” (Interview informant: 35, August, 2017).

According to the informant, some employers, particularly male sought the young girls from the agency to work as company cleaners, barmaids, stage show, food vendors, shop keepers and some for unknown activities although he claimed that those who sought the girls for unknown activities were rejected. The informant also stated that because of employers’ preferences, some girls failed to meet the criteria desired and therefore were unable to get employed and hence stayed longer at the agency and sometimes decided to escape to unknown places.

5. Discussion

Reflecting on how young female domestic workers got to the city of Dar es Salaam and how they were linked to different employers, the findings revealed that the young female domestic workers moved to the city through different social networks such as parental support, relatives, neighbours, friends as well as informal recruiting and migration agents such as brokers, drivers and conductors. Illegal means including fleeing away from home through support from drivers, brokers and bus conductors were also used. The findings are commensurate with the migration network theory [32] [34] [35] [36] adopted in this article as an analytic tool towards understanding how the young female domestic workers got to the city of Dar es Salaam.

The role of intermediaries in domestic labour has been observed in other contexts. In Ethiopia for instance, employment of Ethiopian women migrant domestic workers in the Middle East and Gulf countries has been through official or regular channels and social networks (relatives or friends) as well as irregular channels including assistance of unlicensed brokers [33] , although social networks observed in this article were irregular or informal and the movement was within the country, from rural areas to the city of Dar es Salaam.

In connection with the migration, the findings also indicated that local agents who played the role of recruiting potential domestic labourers in villages were supplied with money by some employers and/or agencies operating in the city for arranging for travels of the potential domestic labourers. Financial flow to local recruiters of labourers has also been reported in other locations such as across Asia and Middle East where the demand for female domestic labourers has been rapidly growing [ [7] : p. 130]. In fact, brokering practices have been documented in numerous studies [see for example, [7] [17] [33] ]. In Indonesia, private agencies have been reported to have been working closely with informal brokers who recruit migrants in villages, not for working in Indonesian cities, but in palm plantations and as domestic servants abroad, in countries such as Malaysia and Saudi Arabia [7] .

As observed from the findings in this article, employers could recruit prospective domestic labourers from the agency directly or indirectly through brokers. The brokers (dalali) connote individuals who negotiated with the informants’ parents, guardians, close relatives or directly to work as domestic labourers in the city in exchange for money. The brokers could also be found in villages where the informants came from. As intermediaries in domestic labour, brokers worked as negotiators, dealers, agents or sometimes as traffickers when they played the role of transporting some girls directly to employers in the city or indirectly through informal agencies or companies in the city. Similar observations have been reported in Ghana where the role of agencies and brokers for women and girls seeking domestic labour in the labour market has been common [17] .

The narrated cases of recruiting and transporting children to the city of Dar es Salaam by parents, relatives, brokers and agencies suggests that domestic work is associated with child trafficking because under the United Nations Trafficking Protocol (Article 3), recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child by different means, including receiving payment to achieve consent of a person having control over another person entails trafficking. The girls could easily be subjected to sexual exploitation which also infringes the protocol.

The fact that some employers particularly male preferred potential female domestic workers with attributes such as attractive body images, smiling faces and romantic eyes from the recruitment agency is an indication that some of them could be subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation. This is because some of the males sought the girls for unknown reasons apart from the highlighted activities such as stage show and selling hard and soft drinks as barmaids. Domestic workers becoming victims of violence and exploitation is reflected in the migration network theory. In fact globally, female domestic labour has been linked with sexual exploitation [32] .

Reflection on work experiences showed that most young female domestic workers were employed when they were less than eighteen years although employing such people in Tanzania is illegal. Since employment relationship of the young female domestic workers was informal, employers did not bother to contribute to medical benefits or pension schemes. Lack of legal recognition and social protection deprived them of security that decent work requires. In some developed countries such as the Netherlands, because of the growing concern for domestic workers, domestic workers have been vocal, campaigning for their rights including social protection with the support from the Dutch Trade Union movement [50] . In the Netherlands however, domestic workers are relatively older whereas those observed in this article were relatively young with no platform to defend their rights.

The findings suggest that urgent concrete intervention measures are imperative towards protecting the young female domestic workers. At the international level, numerous international labour standards in the form of Conventions and Recommendations have been adopted. For instance, Convention, 1973 (No. 138) and 1999 (No. 182) require abolition of all forms of child labour. The ILO Convention No. 189 and Recommendation No. 201 adopted in 2011 laid down the basic principles and minimum labour standards for domestic work. Convention No. 189 provides domestic workers with protective rights against any kind of abuse, violence, discrimination and harassment including of sexual nature. The Convention further highlights the significance of labour inspection to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations protecting domestic workers in different countries.

However, the challenge regarding the observed ILO and national measures has been difficulty in implementation mostly because of the informality of the employment relationship and difficult access to the workplaces [5] . In Tanzania, the situation is even more complicated by the shortage of labour inspectors [ [51] : p. 8, [52] [53] ]. Alternatively, a national registration programme for all children under eighteen years in the country should be instituted. This could be through decentralization of power to local government authorities to regulate domestic labour in local contexts. Registration could be important towards protection of their rights. Domestic labour registration has been imposed in some countries and is instrumental in improving their conditions. In India for instance, compulsory registration is a requirement to both domestic labourers and employers. The domestic workers regulation of work and social security bill, No. 92 of 2017 made it compulsory for a service provider to register a domestic worker within one month from the commencement of the work.

Stern measures should be adopted to stop trafficking young girls as a source of domestic labour in the city. Agencies and brokers engaging in the business should be strictly monitored in both places of origin and destination points. National sustainable surveillance programmes for monitoring children’s lives could also be an option or long term solution. This could be accompanied with repatriation and re-integration programmes for those engaging in domestic labour along with the provision of vocational training to enable them to cope with rural environments.

Unfortunately, the observed employers of the young female domestic workers were close relatives and public servants although some engaged in private business and unknown activities. As failures from school or dropouts, some girls were enticed by close relatives to move to the city through promises of education or finding jobs for them although decent work was unavailable for them. This implies that education should also be imparted to the wider community including close relatives about the significance of protecting children as a potential future labour force in the country. Sustainable programmes for assisting primary and secondary school failures and dropouts should be initiated along with poverty alleviation particularly in the rural areas.


The project was sponsored by the Research Council of Norway.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] ILO (2011) Global and Regional Estimates on Domestic Workers. Domestic Work Policy Brief No. 4, Geneva.
[2] ILO (2013) Domestic Workers across the World: Global and Regional Statistics and the Extent of Legal Protection. Geneva.
[3] Augustine, R. and Sigh, R.K. (2016) Condition and Problems of Female Domestic Workers with Special Reference to L.D.A. Colony in Lucknow City, India. Journal of Sociology and Social Work, 4, 110-117.
[4] ILO (2014) Domestic Workers in the United Republic of Tanzania: Summary of Findings of a Situational Analysis Dar es Salaam.
[5] ILO (2016) A Situational Analysis of Domestic Workers in the United Republic of Tanzania.
[6] Lopez, M. (2018) The Paradox of Women Migrant Workers: Agency and Vulnerabilities. Understanding the Perspective of Women Migrant Workers in Amman, Jordan.
[7] Lindquist, J. (2010) Labour Recruitment, Circuits of Capital and Gendered Mobility: Reconceptualizing the Indonesian Migration Industry. Pacific Affairs, 83, 115-132.
[8] Namukasa, A. (2011) Africa. In: Schwenken, H. and Heimeshoff, L.M., Eds., Domestic Workers Count: Global Data on an Often Invisible Sector, Kassel University Press GmbH, Kassel, 16-23.
[9] Mwaga, L. (2009) Susceptibility to HIV among Migrant Labours: A Case of Migrant House Girls in Kinondoni District at Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.
[10] ILO, NBS (2016) Tanzania National Child Labour Survey 2014: Analytical Report. ILO, Geneva.
[11] Schwenken, H. and Heimeshoff, L.-M. (2011) Domestic Workers Count: Global Data on an Often Invisible Sector. Kassel University Press, Kassel.
[12] ILO (2012) Effective Protection for Domestic Workers: A Guide to Designing Labour Laws. International Labour Office, Geneva.
[13] Dangat, C.M. and Njau, B. (2013) Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices on Family Planning Services among Adolescents in Secondary Schools in Hai District, Northern Tanzania. Tanzania Journal of Health Research, 15, 1-8.
[14] Kiaga, A.K. (2007) Blaming the Other Woman: Rural House Girls and Urban Employers on Identity, Labour and Migration in Tanzania. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
[15] Kiaga, A.K. and Kanyoka, V. (2011) Decent Work for Domestic Workers: Opportunities and Challenges for East Africa. A Consolidated Report of Tripartite Consultation Workshops in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. ILO Country Office, Dar es Salaam.
[16] Brockerhoff, M. and Biddlecom, A.E. (1999) Migration, Sexual Behaviour and the Risk of HIV in Kenya. International Migration Review, 33, 833-856.
[17] Awumbila, M., Deshingkar, P., Kandilige, L., Teye, J.K. and Setrana, M. (2017) Dialectical Relations and Agency in Migration Brokerage for Domestic Work in Ghana. International Conference on Migrating out of Poverty: From Evidence to Policy, London, 28-29 March 2017.
[18] Lee, S.E. (1966) Theory of Migration. Demography, 3, 47-87.
[19] Lewis, W. (1954) Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour. The Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies, 22, 139-191.
[20] Mabogunje, A.L. (1970) Systems Approach to a Theory of Rural-Urban Migration. Geographical Analysis, 2, 1-18.
[21] Hicks, J.R. (1932) The Theory of Wages. Macmillan, London.
[22] Todaro, P.M. (1980) Economic Migration and the Sending Countries. World Labour Report, International Labour Office, Geneva.
[23] Wallerstein, I. (1974) The Modern World System, Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century. Academic Press, New York.
[24] Lebhart (2005) Migration Theories, Hypotheses and Paradigms: An Overview International Migration and Its Regulation.
[25] Todaro, M.P. and Steven, S. (2006) Economic Development. Addison Wesley, Boston.
[26] Kurekova, L. (2011) Theories of Migration: Conceptual Review and Empirical Testing in the Context of the EU East West Flows. Paper Prepared for Interdisciplinary Conference on Migration Economic Change, Social Challenge, University Collage, London, 6-9 April 2011.
[27] Zeng, D.Z., Nakamura, S. and Ibaraki, T. (1996) Double-Offer Arbitration. Mathematical Social Sciences, 31, 147-170.
[28] Todaro, M.P. and Harris, J. (1970) Migration, Unemployment and Development: A Two-Sector Analysis. American Economic Review, 60, 126-142.
[29] Piore, M.J. (1979) Birds of Passage: Migrant Labour in Industrial Societies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
[30] Morawska, E. (1990) The Sociology and Historiography of Immigration. In: Yans-McLaughlin, V., Ed., Immigration Reconsidered: History, Sociology and Politics, Oxford University Press, New York, 187-240.
[31] Castells, M. (1989) The Informational City: Information Technology, Economic Restructuring and the Urban-Regional Process. Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
[32] IOM (2003) Managing Migration Challenges and Responses for People on the Move. World Migration Report, International Organisation for Migration, Geneva.
[33] Bina, F. (2013) Traffickers, Brokers, Employment Agents, and Social Networks: The Regulation of Intermediaries in the Migration of Ethiopian Domestic Workers to the Middle East. International Migration Review, 47, 814-843.
[34] Massey, D.S. (1990) Social Structure, Household Strategies, and the Cumulative Causation of Migration. Population Index, 56, 3-26.
[35] Hugo, G.J. (1981) Village-Community Ties, Village Norms, Ethnics and Social Networks: A Review of Evidence from the Third World. In: Gordon, F.D., Robert, W. and Gardner, Eds., Migration Decision Making: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Micro Level Studies in Developed and Developing Countries, Pergamon Press, New York, 186-225.
[36] Gurak, D. and Caces, F. (1992) International Migration Systems: A Global Approach. In: Kritz, M., Lim, L.L. and Zlotnik, H., Eds., Migration Networks and the Shaping of Migration Systems, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 150-176.
[37] Roberts, B. (2007) Getting the Most out of the Research Experience. Sage, London.
[38] Holliday, A. (2008) Doing and Writing Qualitative. 2th Edition, Sage, London.
[39] Corbin, J. and Strauss, A. (2014) Basics of Qualitative Research. 3rd Edition, Sage, Thousand Oaks.
[40] Dahlgren, L., Emmelin, M. and Winkvist, A. (2007) Qualitative Methodology for International Public Health. Umea International School of Public Health, Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, Umea University, Umea.
[41] Maxwell, J.A. (2005) Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. Sage Publications, London.
[42] Morse, J.M. and Field, P.A. (1995) Qualitative Research Methods for Health Professionals. Sage Publications, London.
[43] Vatnar, S.K.B. and Bjorkly, S. (2008) An Interactional Perspective of Intimate Partner Violence: An In-Depth Semi-Structured Interview of a Representative Sample of Help-Seeking Women. Journal of Family Violence, 23, 265-279.
[44] Maxwell, J.A. (2013) Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. Sage, Thousand Oaks.
[45] Creswell, J.W. (2013) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. Sage, Thousand Oaks.
[46] Bernard, H.R. (2013) Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 2nd Edition, Sage, Thousand Oaks.
[47] Ritchie, J. and Spencer, L. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis for Applied Policy Research. In: Bryman, A. and Burgess, R.G., Eds., Analyzing Qualitative Data, Routledge, London, 173-194.
[48] Lacey, A. and Luff, D. (2001) Trent Focus for Research and Development in Primary Health Care: An Introduction to Qualitative Analysis. Trent Focus, Nottingham.
[49] Srivastava, A. and Thomson, S.B. (2009) Framework Analysis: A Qualitative Methodology for Applied Research Policy Research. Journal of Administration and Governance, 4, 72-79.
[50] van Walsum, S. (2011) Regulating Migrant Domestic Work in the Netherlands: Opportunities and Pitfalls. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 23, 141-165.
[51] Kerega, P.A. (2018) Understanding the Industrial Economy and Workers’ Rights in Tanzania: Prospects and Challenges under a New Industrial Strategy. Journal of Human Resources Management and Labour Studies, 6, 1-12.
[52] LHRC (2014) Report by Legal and Human Right Commission (LHC) Strengthen Labour Law Compliance: Government Urged. Dar es Salaam. IPP Media.
[53] Ludek, R. (2013) Ministry of Labour: Comparative Overview, History, Challenges World-Wide Data Base and Organizational Charts. International Labour Office, Geneva.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.