It is with this belief and vision that Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2014) and a human rights activist from India, has been at the forefront of the global movement to end child slavery and exploitative child labour for over 35 years now. He has sought to eradicate all forms of violence against children including sexual abuse and trafficking. He has rescued over 80,000 child slaves and developed a successful model for their education and rehabilitation. Mr Satyarthi has embarked on a historic Bharat Yatra to spearhead the fight against child trafficking and sexual abuse across the country.“ I declare a war on the rape of the children of this country. I am compelled to march across the length and breadth of India because I cannot merely mourn the death of the conscience of the nation. When a child is raped, morality dies” The yatra flagged off on September 11th from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari and will pass through 22 states and union territories over 35 days covering over 11,000 kilometres, stretching to western India and reaching Delhi. The Yatra on the Eastern side will commence from Guwahati, while Srinagar will flag off the northern stretch. All these stretches will culminate in the national capital of Delhi, on the 16th of October this year.
Mr. Satyarthi fondly said, “Kanyakumari holds a special place in my heart. The previous Bharat Yatra I undertook, which was the Shiksha Yatra of 2001, was also launched from Kanyakumari and progressed to New Delhi. The flag off from Kanyakumari the Vivekananda Memorial, commemorates the anniversary of the great leader’s address at Chicago in 1893.”
Mr. Satyarthi has been preparing for many months, leading up to the Yatra and has met faith leaders and religious heads in New Delhi & Ajmer who have assured him of their support wherever his campaigns go. He has also met corporates leaders from PayTM, Godrej,BSE etc. and has received overwhelming response for his fight against child sexual abuse and trafficking. Mr. Satyarthi wishes to involve all possible stakeholders in the Bharat Yatra, as only then will India witness a true revolution and a change in the mindset of the people.Throughout the duration of the Yatra, grassroot programs will witness participation of school and college students, along with leaders from diverse social, cultural, religious, media and corporate organisations. Each day, thousands of residents would join them in solidarity and support. The programs will use theatre, music and folklore in local languages to create mass awareness against violence inflicted on children.Says Mr Kailash Satyarthi, “I believe more the people, louder the voice, greater the awareness and faster the action. The Bharat Yatra aims to build a universal consensus. The vision that I have dreamt and nurtured for several decades- a world free of child sexual abuse and violence against children must now become the motto of every citizen of India. Only then we will see our children, safe and secure.”
India has the largest child population in the world with 444.1 million. It accounts for 36% of the total population of the country. While children are the bedrock of our nation and its economic development, what is worrisome is the growing menace of child sexual abuse and child trafficking, says Mr Satyarthi. “If child labour, slavery, trafficking, and violence against children continues, we will fail to accomplish most of the development goals,” he firmly emphasises. “It is critical to both strengthen laws against trafficking and abuse and sensitise citizens to not remain silent about violence inflicted on children. The POCSO Act is a step in the right direction to curb violence against children. We applaud the lawmakers of this country for diligently carrying forward the implementation of this. The law needs to be strengthened even more to be able to curb the magnitude of crime being committed against our children,” he says.Mr Satyarthi is credited to be the architect of the single largest civil society network for the exploited children. His movement, “The Global March Against Child Labour”, whose mobilisation of unions, civil society and children led to the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour in 1999. With his undying efforts to help children afford the childhood they deserve, Mr Satyarthi established that child labour is responsible for the perpetuation of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population explosion and many other social evils.
The World over, two children are sold every minute. Between 600,000 and 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. This trafficking is helping in generating a profit of USD 32 billion annually. Approximately 80% are women and girls; up to 50% are minors.With a vision to eradicate all forms of violence against children over five years, Mr Satyarthi launched the ‘100 million for 100 million’ campaign in December 2016. The campaign seeks to highlight the menace of child abuse and child trafficking globally and mobilise people to push for a conducive policy framework to curb trafficking of children. What he achieved with his unwavering commitment and passion concerning child labour, he intends to achieve for child trafficking and child sexual abuse as well. In short, Mr Satyarthi refuses to rest on his laurels. His passion for seeing every child in this world live safe and free is motivating him to be on his feet.To mobilise the support of leaders across the world, Mr Satyarthi and his Foundation, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, brought together Nobel laureates and leaders on a single platform, to harness they're collective intellectual, moral and political will to build a child-free world. The Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit held in December 2016, concentrated on building a strong moral platform for protecting all children from violence and ensuring the world where all children are free to be children. This Summit sought to amplify the collective leadership and moral authority of Nobel laureates across different fields, world leaders and champions of children’s rights. Some of the Noble Laureate who was part of the Summit is The Dalai Lama, Her Excellency Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia (2010-13), Mr Angel Gurria, Secretary General, OCED, Princess Charlene of Monaco and Princess Laurentin of the Netherlands. The strength of Mr Satyarthi’s passion lies in the belief that youth across the world are looking to change the mindset of people and the norms of law to protect and nurture children. He firmly believes in children’s freedom from all kinds of exploitation- be it sexual, physical or mental, and is determined to continue to fight for their safety, security and happiness, till violence against children is eradicated across the world.