Over 800,000 activists march to demand leaders tackle the vast challenge of child safety from labour and abuse.
Across India, the Bharat Yatra (India March) saw thousands of young people marching for their rights to freedom and safety. Taking in over 11,000km in five weeks, and organised by 100 Million campaign founder and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, over 800,000 activists marched to demand change from their democratic representatives to tackle the vast challenge of child safety from labour and abuse.
In Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, and Maharashtra – as well as at national level – their demands have been heard. By standing up for their rights and the rights of all young people, changes in policy and practice have been made by decision-makers, taking us all one step closer to a world which is free, safe, and educated.
Watch our short film to hear from marchers themselves about their experiences and why they took action, and read more about the changes they effected by standing up for their rights.
Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, stated “Child labour and trafficking are grave crimes against humanity and the Government of India is committed to eliminate all forms of trafficking… I will ensure that the anti-trafficking bill you are fighting for will be passed soon,” during the launch of the Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour in New Delhi on 26 September 2017.
In Punjab, changes to the training of police officers and to materials in schools will be made to raise awareness and provide support as part of a practical effort to support those who have been subjected to abuse and violence, and to tackle these abuses against children.
Honourable Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, stated that Andhra Pradesh will become a state with zero tolerance for any form of violence against children and will be a pioneer in implementing strict rules against child abusers. He also announced that the state of Andhra Pradesh would house a global policy institute dedicated to the well-being and security of children across the country. The Global Policy Institute for Children will provide evidence-based policy support and advocacy, building civil society’s capacity to address violence against children through training and knowledge sharing. Its long-term goal is to provide coverage on all issues which constitute violence against children, across abuse, lack of education, and health.
The Honourable Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan, proposed a state-wide mission on child protection, stating, “I want to assure you that my Government is with you, the entire 7.5 crore population of Madhya Pradesh is with you.”
Mehbooba Mufti, Honourable Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, appealed to parents to speak up instead of telling their children to be silent against sexual abuse or any form of exploitation. She announced that an awareness programme on child sexual abuse will be organised in Jammu and Kashmir schools, with the support of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.
In Kerala, Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan, Honourable Chief Minister, said that no abuse of children will be tolerated in the state of Kerala and committed that steps will be taken to make Kerala a child-friendly state.
State Minister of Rural Development, Women and Child Welfare in Maharashtra, Mrs. Pankaja Munde, said “We had earlier launched a child helpline and are now launching a child policy. Our government is very open to feedback and we will keep on amending it based on the emerging needs.” She said that society and government need to join hands to tackle child trafficking, and launched a new Maharashtra State child policy with the help of UNICEF.