Guwahati, Sunday, December 9, 2012
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Mindset change needed to fight child labour
Staff reporter
 GUWAHATI, Dec 8 – Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir today emphasised the need for a change of perception among people as a step towards eliminating child labour and trafficking of women and children in the country.

 Addressing an eminent gathering in the city today, he said, “We have to change our mindset…” and underlined the need to ensure that children who are recovered are given proper rehabilitation and that their families have some form of support.

In his opinion there was a clear need for rehabilitation, education and training of young people following their recovery. He mentioned that young women in particular had specific needs which have to be taken care of by society.

Reiterating the importance of ‘economic cushioning’ of families after recovery and rehabilitation of children and women, he urged the Union and State Governments to consider providing them with decent opportunities which made them feel safe and protected.

He was taking part in a seminar titled ‘Elimination of Child Labour and Trafficking of Women and Children,’ organised by the Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) in association with Department of Social Welfare, Assam.

He appreciated the efforts of the organisers for seeking to raise awareness about child labour and trafficking, two maladies affecting the country in a serious manner. Thanking ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’ for its role in creating awareness, he said that today’s seminar was “a step in the right direction…and I hope and pray it will go a long way….”

In his speech, the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court, Adarsh Kumar Goel urged the audience to consider the nation’s children as their own and then decide to act in a conscientious way. Instead of being some sort of a charity, caring for children and protecting their rights was a move towards the overall development of society.

Many children, who have been trafficked, eventually land up with wrong livelihoods, which is harmful to society.

There exist a large number of malnourished children in the country, and their requirements have to be fulfilled for society to really advance.

Former Supreme Court Judge, MK Sharma favoured raising the age limit of children covered under Right to Education.

The upper age limit should be raised to 18 years, so young girls and boys can stay in school for a longer period and thus enjoy a protective cover during a crucial period of life.

Expressing concern over the trafficking of children and women from Assam, the noted jurist said that if not tackled now, there will be a crisis in the near future. The trafficking nexus, in his view, has to be broken and all stakeholders should join hands in this endeavour.

In a passionate speech, Kailash Satyarthi, the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, referred to an instance where a trafficked child could meet her father after 14 years of separation, in a stage of life when she had no memories of her childhood.

He expressed his gratitude to Justice Kabir for his support to the cause that involved some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Satyarthi linked child labour and trafficking of children and women to poverty and illiteracy, adding that the problem was part of a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

According to figures estimated by NGOs there were nearly six crore child labourers in India, while the figure rose to eight and half crore in the South Asian region.

State Minister of Social Welfare Akon Bora, lauded the intent of the seminar, which he said would help highlight some of the most unacceptable violation of human rights. Bora pointed out that his department had joined hands with many NGOs to confront the challenges of child labour, and trafficking of children and women.

Justice Amitava Roy, Judge Gauhati High Court and executive chairman, ASLSA delivered the welcome address focusing on the gravity of the issues concerning the human rights of children and women, and urged upon society to have a ‘serious introspection.’

He appealed to the gathering to make a pledge to eliminate child labour and trafficking of women and children.

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