Rescue, Recover, Rehabilitate – The 3 R’s to ensure safe childhood to all child labourers
New Delhi, 27 September 2007: “Every child has the right to good quality education; every child has the right to play” resonated Amarlal’s words in the SCOPE complex as the regional consultation on good practices in the elimination of child labour and trafficking of children for forced labour. This young boy of 12 outlined the programme as a platform for all participants to share their practices on various strategies. The consultation was the first ever effort by any civil society organisation in the South Asian region to identify and collate the good practices of organisations for wider dissemination. Organisations spoke of their strategies in direct action and legal intervention; education; rehabilitation; child participation; mass mobilisation and advocacy; and Corporate social responsibility and ethical trade practices in the elimination of child labour and trafficking of children for forced labour.
In his keynote address, Justice V.S. Malimath spoke of his association with Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) through the first case of child domestic labour that came to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) where the latter directed the government to change service rules of government employees that they cannot employ children in their homes. He said- “parents, society and state are the three main agencies that need to take care of children. If children are not taken care of by parents, society should, if society doesn’t then the State should. But the presence of child labour is in fact a failure of all the three agencies and sensitising them and making them responsible forms the crux of the solution to ending this malady.”
Panudda Boonpala, Deputy Director (a.i) ILO Sub Regional Office, Delhi, a long time friend of the Global March said the atmosphere of the consultation reminded her of the days of the Global March in 1998 when she and her ILO colleagues received marchers at the ILO office in Geneva in July 1998. Addressing the audience, she said that though there is progress, much still needs to be done to reduce child labour. The favourable thing she said was the slight increase in political will to take action against child labour which is a reason for hope, she mentioned. “What we now require are good practices that are innovative creative, effective, replicable, sustainable, relevant, responsive and efficient in to be implemented.”
For the first time, the Indian National Trade Union Congress formally announced its support to BBA to jointly fight against child labour. “If a child is working then an adult is out of work. It is important to provide employment skills to an adult so that a child can go to school”- he said addressing the audience. I.P. Anand of the Indian Employers’ Council also expressed his solidarity with the cause. Dr. Lakshmidhar Mishra, Special Rapporteur, NHRCclearly stated that we should speak out in one voice and in one conscience for the complete prohibition and elimination of child labour, not regulation.
Kailash Satyarthi, the Chairperson of Global March in his address outlined three C’s – Creativesolutions to the problems faced, Coordinationbetween intergovernmental agencies; within the various departments of government and most importantly Compassion towards the children, that are necessary to eliminate child labour and trafficking of children for forced labour.
The brain storming sessions on 6 topics, saw the active participation of over various speakers from across India and especially the participation and support of ILO representatives.
The closing session was graced by the Honourable Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice M.K Sarma; Justice Kailash Gambhir, Delhi High Court; Ravi Prakash Verma, MP; Professor B.N. Juyal; Ramesh Gupta, President, Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
Shri Ravi Prakash Verma, Member of Parliament and President, National Coalition on Education, said questioned –“how can we call ourselves sensitive, when there are thousands of children living on streets and working in hazardous industries? What is necessary is political will and strict implementation of laws.
Honourable Justice M.K. Sarma, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court said that we have to remember 3 Rs to combat child labour and child trafficking for forced labour rescue – to take out children from hazardous situations, recover – to counsel them and recover their childhood and rehabilitation – proper rehabilitation to bring them back to the normal environment. The police should penalize the employer under the appropriate laws and the Rs. 20,000 that is the rehabilitation package should be used for rehabilitation of rescued children. It is important to see that all children go back to school. He spoke of the efforts of the legal fraternity in activating the National Commission and constituting of the State Commissions of Child Rights. Thanking all the speakers and dignitaries for theire enthusiastic participation, Ramesh Gupta, President BBA in his note of thanks said- “children are not just leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today. We need to act now to make them leaders of today. They cannot wait anymore.”
The Best Practices ON ELIMINATION OF CHILD LABOUR AND TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN FOR FORCED LABOUR shared with all the organization and esteemed guests would be compiled as a information book for all the organisation working for child rights.