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Nobel Laureate Calls for End to Child Slavery

Message resonates with SSND delegation


Kailash Satyarthi, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s call to end child labor and slavery resonated deeply Tuesday with participants from the SSND delegation attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Satyarthi is a human rights activist who has been instrumental in the global movement to end child slavery.  In 2014, he and Malala Yousafzai were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

An estimated 168 million children toil in child labor, many in slavery or slavery-like conditions. Furthermore, 57 million have never been to school, and 150 million drop out without even completely a basic education.

A child who can be a child

“While we are talking here, millions of young daughters and sons are being sold like animals,” Satyarthi said during the DPI/NGO special briefing. “Every figure has a face behind it. Every single data has a cry behind it, and that is the cry of freedom, the cry to be a child – a child who can love, a child who can play, a child who can read, a child who can be a child.”

Satyarthi recounted the stories of several children he had rescued from slavery. Beth Hancock, a student from Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) who is attend the UN CSW with the SSND delegation, said that she was moved by what Satyarthi said about the girl who had been abducted at age seven and was working in a circus. After he rescued the girl about eight years later, he told her, “You can be a child now,” and she looked at him and said, “Am I really still a child?”

“I think this is why approaching the girl child is so important,” Beth said. “Once this happens, the damage is done. You can’t just save these girls and pull them out of it and it’s done. They’ve been robbed of their childhood.”

'Let's globalize compassion'

It was clear that Satyarthi is passionate about children, said Mia Diamond, a NDMU student with the SSND delegation.

“He was phenomenal,” Mia said. “He saved 80,000 children from child labor and child slavery. The way he talked he had such overall compassion for children and women.”

Satyarthi said that partnerships must be built among governments, businesses, media, the United Nations and civil society if there is to be an end to child slavery and labor exploitation. There needs to be deeper and broader agency interaction.

“Put all your efforts in your own way into ending child slavery,” Satyarthi said. "Each one of you has some moral responsibility.

“Everything is globalized these days so let’s globalize compassion.”

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