Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Tuesday said his 35-day-long nationwide march (yatra) starting next month is aimed at pushing for a strong law against human trafficking and to create awareness about the issue. He said the main aim of his ‘Bharat Yatra’, commencing from September 11, is to demand that Parliament enact a strong law against human trafficking. The 63-year-old activist said he will pass through 22 states during the march which is aimed at fighting child trafficking and sexual abuse of children across the country.
“One of the major demands through this campaign is that Parliament passes a stringent law against human trafficking, including child trafficking,” he told reporters at Hyderabad.
“Unfortunately, in India, we do not have a strong or specific law which deals with all forms of trafficking,” the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner said.
Asserting that he has declared a war against rape, sexual abuse and child trafficking, Satyarthi said, “It is not an ordinary crime…this epidemic of sexual abuse is growing everywhere and haunting our nation.”
“Our children are not safe either in homes, schools or neighbourhood or anywhere and the perpetrators (of such crimes) roam freely. We just cannot wait and watch,” he said.
The ‘Save the Childhood Movement’ founder said, “This war will go on in the form of a long march, ‘Bharat Yatra’, which will begin in Kanyakumari on September 11 and cover 11,000 km across 22 states before culminating in Delhi on October 16.”
Six other marches will join with the main ‘Bharat Yatra’,” he said.
Satyarthi said he has met the president, the prime minister, Union ministers, chief ministers, corporate leaders, representatives of civil society organisations and leaders of various faiths to get them involved in this march.
They all have extended their support to it, with many MPs are expected to take part in it, he said, adding, “At least one million people, mostly youth, would join the march and I hope one crore people will take pledge against child sexual abuse and trafficking.”
Though the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is a good law, the conviction rate under it is just four per cent. Also, over 90 per cent cases, lodged under the Act, are pending in the courts, Satyarthi said.
According to him, it will take another 40 years to clear the large number of such cases pending in some states.
“Every eight minute a child goes missing and the child is basically trafficked for sexual abuse, for prostitution, forced labour, slavery, child marriage, organ transplantation and other purposes,” he said.
Stressing on the need to have child-friendly courts and more investments on judicial mechanism to create fast-track courts for speedy trial, Satyarthi said, “But it is not happening and ‘Bharat Yatra’ will also focus on this.”
“If we have to make a ‘New India’, which we aspire and are committed to, then our girls and boys should be safe in their homes, schools and their neighbourhood. ‘New India’ would be one where all children are safe, free and educated, and this is a movement for that,” he said.
Satyarthi thanked the Centre for initiating “strong measures” to curb pornography but said more needs to be done on this front.
“We have to ensure that children and adolescents do not access pornographic sites and everyone needs to work in this regard,” he said.