Activists working for child rights hope that with Kailash Satyarthi winning a Nobel Peace prize for this cause, there will be a spotlight on the issue.
NGOs claim it is mostly on their insistence that the police and the government conduct joint raids to rescue minor children working in inhuman conditions.
“The award will certainly help in changing the mindset not only of the bureaucracy but the law-enforcement agencies. There is bound to be a wider impact of this award and it will definitely help in creating greater awareness about child rights. So far, a number of bills are pending related to trafficking and child rights —so it will put pressure on the government to act,” said Rishi Kant, an activist with NGO Shakti Vahini that works for the welfare of children.
In Delhi, the labour department, the sub-divisional magistrates and Delhi Police have a big role to play in preventing trafficking and child labour but many a time the issue does not find prominence.
The labour department is supposed to check construction sites, road side eateries and industrial areas to find if any minors have been employed there. However, NGOs claim the number of raids conducted is almost negligible.
“Delhi is known for children working as domestic help,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, director advocacy and policy, Save the children.
NGOs also hope that this will create more awareness among the public. “The issue of child labour and bonded labour is grave in India and Satyarthi and his organization have chartered difficult territories to develop standardized procedures in areas of rescue and rehabilitation of children in exploitative environments. This will further reinforce global efforts to uphold children’s rights,” said Komal Ganotra, director, policy and advocacy, CRY — Child Rights and You.
Recently, the high court had summoned the Delhi government’s labour secretary to explain why its previous directions for regulating placement agencies through an executive order were not complied with.
According to NGOs, over 10,000 illegal agencies were operating in the city. “When I had started my campaign, it was a non-issue but people started taking note of it. With this award I hope the mindset of people and government will change,” said Satyarthi of BBA.