**New Delhi: ** Child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi says leaders from across the political spectrum should promise that they will pass the anti-trafficking bill in the Rajya Sabha to celebrate Children’s day in the true sense as the little ones are the most affected by trafficking.
“We have rules against trafficking in bits and pieces. But there is no one law, for which we and others also are fighting,” he told IANS.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, was passed in the Lok Sabha in July and the activist hopes that it will be passed in the Rajya Sabha as well.
“If any politician, irrespective of the party, wants to celebrate Children’s Day in a true sense, he/she should promise to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha as children are most affected by trafficking,” he said.
The Bill, when passed, will allow investigation of all types of trafficking and rescue, protection and rehabilitation of trafficked victims. It classified certain purposes of trafficking as “aggravated”, which will attract higher punishment. These include trafficking for forced labour, bearing children, begging, or for inducing early sexual maturity.
The activist also said that the government speaks about the GDP going up, but not even four per cent of that is spent on children’s education, health and protection — and there is no child-centric development in the country.
“In India, the population below 18-years is 40 per cent, which roughly is 40-42 crore children. But we only spend 3.5 per cent of our GDP on the education, health and protection of this group. We are not able to spend even four per cent of our GDP on our 40 per cent population; how can we morally say that the children are our future and present.”
He said development, for him, has nothing to do with GDP going up or down but how to secure a girl in a remote area or village feels.
He also said the main issue before the children is that they are not a priority anywhere.
“The children are not our political priority or religious or financial priority. They are also not our social priority. You may say good things one day, but that is just for formality — which people will do on Children’s Day. We should celebrate Children’s Day every day, every second in the home as well as in society.”
Satyarthi, who started working on children’s right in the 1980s and freed over 80,000 children from slave-like conditions, said it is everybody’s duty to protect a child.
“I am one person who will ask everyone, irrespective of religion, to protect children. All kids are country’s children and we should work on their protection, irrespective of the religion or caste.”
“There should be child-centred discussion and brain-storming in society, which will help in removing discrimination and barriers in the social mindset. Our focus should be the child and not his/her religion. A teacher does not discriminate his/her students on religion basis, so why should society?”
He also said that an individual can also do his or her bit to bring change and protect the child.
“Raise your voice, call the police if you see something wrong or a child being mistreated. Click pictures and record evidence of that mistreatment. Tell a teashop owner or restaurant owners that you will not have tea or food at their shop if they mistreat or appoint children to work.”