The death of a 14-year-old housemaid abused by her employer has sparked a public outcry in Morocco, giving ammunition to those demanding an end to the exploitation of child workers in the kingdom.
The girl, known as Fatima, died last March after suffering third-degree burns to her hands and face.
Her female employer was jailed for 20 years in January after being convicted of her death.
The trial became a symbol of the ordeal that some of the tens of thousands of child domestic workers have to endure in the north African nation, rights groups say.
Morocco’s labour laws prohibit the employment of anyone under the age of 15 and require the authorisation of a guardian for anyone under 18.
Despite some improvements, the national planning commission says, however, there are still more than 90,000 children under 15 working in Morocco.
And Human Rights Watch said in January that girls as young as eight continued to work in private homes for up to 12 hours per day, and for as little as $US11 ($A12.22) per month.
The country has no laws protecting domestic workers – both children and adults – but parliament has tabled a bill aimed at regulating their working conditions.
The proposed law would give domestic workers contracts and a minimum wage of around $US100 ($A111) a month – half the national figure – as well as one day’s holiday per week and an annual leave allowance.
Employers who flaunt these terms could face financial penalties of up to 5000 dirhams ($A666.50).
Finalised in June, the bill “has been endorsed by the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the (state) National Council of Human Rights and we are totally open to all propositions” from parliament, Labour Minister Abdesslam Seddiki said.
But the legislation has its critics too, and rights groups and opposition politicians have demanded the bill be expanded to offer better working conditions.
Human Rights Watch last November urged Moroccan lawmakers to revise the bill, saying it had “a unique opportunity to put an end to the exploitation of domestic workers by bringing the draft law in line with standards set by the International Labour Organisation.”
“Morocco can become the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to ratify the domestic workers’ treaty,” HRW’s Tamara Alrifai said in a letter to Seddiki.