BHARAT YATRA, launched by Noble Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi, arrived in Chandigarh on Thursday. The volunteers were welcomed at Panjab University and Chandigarh SCPCR by Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher, SCPCR Chairperson Harjinder Kaur and students of schools and universities.
Addressing students, Satyarthi said, “There are four Ps which we must take care of. First is people. They are in danger today. 23 crore kids live in countries which are at constant war. 130 million kids fall prey to war, 50 crore cannot even dream of freedom because they are victims of child slavery and millions are sold at prices lower than that of animals. Being people does not mean just life, but also dignity. Second P is plant. Global warming is an alarming issue and affects people and their activities. The third P is profit or property. About 10-12 years ago, people had prosperity and now they do not have it at all. The last P is peace. If we cannot protect our children from violence, then we cannot create a peaceful and sustainable world.”
Talking about sexual abuse, violence and child trafficking, Satyarthi said, “I am marching because my children are being raped everyday. Every six minutes, a child goes missing. More than 4.5 lakh children have been victims of trafficking, bought, sold for commercial and sexual exploitation. This yatra is to make India safe against child sexual abuse, violence, child labour practices and illegal trafficking.”
Kirron Kher said, “I welcome the Supreme Court decision of considering any person having sex with minor wife as rape offender. Child abuse and sexual exploitation of our children are nothing new. Violence against children is voilence against humanity and society. Dignity of a child is very important and when it is lost in childhood, everything is shattered. Our silence is shocking. This Bharat Yatra will make the difference this country needs.”
Sharing his childhood experience with students at Government Girls College-42, the Nobel laureate said, “On my very first day in school when I was five or six years old, I saw a child like me polishing shoes outside my school. When I asked why he do not go to school, his father told me school is not meant for poor people. And that made me change my attitude towards life and people.”
Highlighting the power of education, Satyarthi introduced Allie Sibnar, a young foreign volunteer of an NGO from USA who works with Noble Prize winners. “I joined this campaign from Jammu. When I heard of this campaign against child trafficking and sexual abuse in India, I decided to be a part of it. This is an amazing experience to travel and interact with people across different regions,” said Sibnar, adding that she had been working for the same cause for the last nine years since she was 14 years old.
Sumit, a 15-year-old volunteer of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation and one of those rescued from child labour, recalls his experience of the past, “I am from Saharsa in Bihar. My parents sent me to work at a grocery shop for two years. They are not rich to send me to school. We are three siblings. My master used to make me work for 13-15 hours for Rs 5 a month. Although he gave me food and shelter, he also used to beat me saying I was too slow and lazy. I was rescued by Ashram. I have joined school again, Now, I understand what child labour is and how we can fight for child rights with education. My sister is also getting education at Asharam.”
Safe Children-Safe India is the primary theme of Bharat Yatra aimed at raising awareness against child sexual abuse, violence and child trafficking. The campaign started on September 11 from Kanyakumari and will end at Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 16. More than 9,000 kms have been covered till now.