The number of child workers in India has fallen considerably but incidents of sexual violence against children has gone up, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi has said. Satyarthi also being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 had greatly helped him in his long-running campaign against child labour and child abuse not just in India but across the world. Speaking to IANS journalists, the 63-year-old said that problems cannot be just left to the government to resolve and that the young will have to use social media to spread awareness about the suffering of bonded children.
Satyarthi said the number of child workers in India had fallen from 12.5 million in 2001 to 10 million in 2011 and further to 4.2 million now. “I cannot verify the accuracy of this data but I can say there is improvement (in the situation).”
But Satyarthi, who heads the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), pointed out that there was a steep hike in incidents of child abuse and rape in both India and beyond. “Also, violence against children is on the rise, which is dangerous,” he said, and blamed pornography as one of the causes. Satyarthi put the strength of full-time child workers around the world at 160 million.
“Almost half of them are victims of the worst form of child labour. They are in a very dangerous situation. About five million of them are slaves who do not have any kind of freedom. They are traded.” Satyarthi spoke to IANS hours after he and his colleagues raided an obscure workshop in a narrow lane in Old Delhi and rescued nine children who were producing exportable decoration gifts for the next Christmas season.
The owner of the illegal factory fled from the spot but police sealed the premises. The Nobel Prize winner underlined the strong connection between child labour and joblessness among adults around the world.
He said while about 160 million children were engaged in work, about 210 million adults were without work. “Most of these jobless are the very parents of the child labourers. That is the irony.” He underlined that violence against children cannot be curbed by traditional ways “as the situation has changed now”.
“Why can’t India be the leader of globalisation of compassion?” he asked. “Conventional methods are not going to protect children.” He said that unlike earlier perceptions that neither humanitarian nor developmental issues can be solved without government help, “things have changed now”.
Satyarthi said the role of corporates had increased manifold, and so was the case with civil society. “Now they have emerged as constructive and critical partners in the entire narrative on both development and human rights.”