Abuse of children is a blot to humanity: Satyarthi

Written by LAKSHMI SHARAN

To mark the 20th Anniversary of Global March Against Child Labour (Global March) as well as the World Day Against Child Labour, Global March and the International Labour Organization (ILO) organised a joint event  during the International Labour Conference (ILC) at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.  The event, in the form of a panel discussion, saw the participation of dignitaries and panelists including the ILO Director-General, Mr Guy Ryder; Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi; former Global Marcher, BasuRai’ former child labourer in farm, Zulema Lopez and many others.

The event began with showcasing a video on the historic Global March Against Child Labour of 1998 along with the 20 years of journey of Global March as well as a Virtual March Against Child Labour that was organised by Global March throughout the month of May 2018 on Facebook and Twitter. The Virtual March raised awareness on child labour to advocate for the universal ratification and implementation of the key child labour Conventions. It mobilised voices across different online platforms through diverse mediums on this issue, engaging stakeholders such as children, youth, employers’ and workers’ organizations, influencers, parliamentarians and civil society, among others and reached 858000 people on Twitter and 206000 on Facebook across 4 continents of the world. The video ended with a strong appeal that only 7 years are left to achieve the SDG Target 8.7 to end child labour by 2025. Following the video of Global March, ILO’s video on hazardous child labour was also played for the audience which set the mood for the event.

The panel discussion started with introductions of all panelists and a key note address from the founder of Global March Against Child Labour and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi as well as the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

Reminiscing the global march that received a standing ovation from the delegates present at the International Labour Conference at Palais des Nations in 1998, Mr. Satyarthi remarked saying “It was 20 years ago when for the first time ILO opened its doors to the most vulnerable children in the world.”

The event in Geneva also marked the 20th anniversary of the Global March against Child Labour, which culminated in June 1998, when hundreds of marchers, including children, took to the stage at the International Labour Conference, where delegates paved the ground for the adoption in 1999 of ILO Convention No. 182  on “Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour.”

“If the children are still trapped in the international supply chains, if the children are still enslaved, if the children are still sold and bought like animals – sometimes for less than the price of animals – to work in the fields and farms, and shops and factories, or for households as domestic workers, this is a blot on humanity,” he said.

The panel discussion ended with  Satyarthi’s urgent appeal to all the guests and government representatives and other stakeholders present, that the issue of child labour needs urgent attention. He said that the issue of child labour is personal to him and the same personal attention must be given to it by all stakeholders. Ending child labour is urgent and it is possible.

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LAKSHMI SHARAN

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