Recently Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi during his keynote address as the Chief Guest on the occasion of 93rd Foundation Day of Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) at Nagpur called upon the swayam sewaks (volunteers) to serve as a firewall for protecting the children of our country.
It is imperative to understand this Firewall concept!
RSS has over 55,000 shakhas (branches) spread across the length and breadth of the country. These shakhas are present even in the remotest villages. If the swayam sewaks (volunteers) of the Sangh stand up for the cause of protection of the most vulnerable and marginalized children of our country and proactively work towards sensitization of parents of children-at-risk against the crime of trafficking, particularly explaining them the modus operandi of traffickers and the violence that the children are subjected to, the social change that will take place is enormous. Introduction of Anti-human Trafficking Bill a 'Resounding Victory': Kailash Satyarthi.
Further, if the swayam sewaks of the shakhas become the eyes and ears of our law enforcement agencies, intervention against trafficking will become much easier and effective. I think this is what Kailash Satyarthi meant by swayam sewaks becoming firewall for the children.
Given the kind of reach and expanse that RSS enjoys across the country, and considering the fact that under the umbrella of RSS also come organizations like Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (largest trade union of the world) and ABVP (prominent student union) the role it can play in mobilizing the youth of the nation for the benefit of children besides defending values like freedom of association, right to collective bargaining and decent working conditions for adults is too significant to be ignored. Anti-Trafficking Bill: Here’s Everything You Need to Know.
Needless to mention that if adults are employed and children are at school getting access to meaningful, quality and equitable education the prospects of nation’s growth multiply manifold.
It’s a travesty of sorts that even 71 years after the independence of our country eight children go missing every hour, four are sexually abused and two raped. Most of the missing children are trafficked for forced labour, sexual exploitation, prostitution, forced begging, illegal organ transplantation, child marriages, surrogacy and are subjected to unabated and unimaginable violence.
Trafficking is the third largest illicit business in the world after drugs and illegal arms generating black money in excess of 150 Billion USD every year.
Child welfare should be a subject of common interest to each and every citizen irrespective of caste, creed, religion, ideology, socio-economic status, political inclination and faith.
A few months ago we read how a spirited and responsible citizen of our country upon seeing 26 visibly distressed minor girls being transported in Muzaffarpur-Bandra Awadh Express alerted the Railway Police over a tweet. This act of presence of mind led to the rescue of the girls. That person served as a protective shield or firewall for those girls.
Children can be found working in subhuman conditions in the lower tiers of the supply chain spanning across the informal economy in the developing nations. Some businesses in order to keep their production costs at a minimum, compromise upon human rights in their supply chains. By boycotting cheap products we can dissuade and disparage this race to the bottom thereby compelling the companies to ensure that there are no human right violations in their supply chains. This is also one of the ways consumers can exercise their power and serve as a firewall for the children.
As alert citizens, we should reach out to the Police (at 100) and Child Helpline (at 1098) whenever we see a child in distress. By doing this we can become a firewall for the most vulnerable children around us.
We must discourage our friends and relatives from employing children in their factories and households and awaken their conscience by guiding them to hand over the children to the law enforcement agencies so that they are repatriated and reintegrated into the mainstream society. This is again equivalent to offering a firewall protection to children and saving them from exploitation.
It has been proven that in 70 percent of the cases, children are raped and sexually abused by someone known to them and often within the very confines of the household. It is very important that all of us become firewalls for our children at home and outside to ensure that they get physically and emotionally safe space to dwell.
Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. The way we assert for our rights, we must not abrogate our responsibilities towards the children around us. The way we care for the rights of our children, we must also stand up for the rights of other children particularly those who for some reason have been alienated from their parents or legal guardians. We must protect innocent childhoods so that the children are nurtured and they grow up to become healthy, educated, productive and responsible citizens augmenting the human capital of our country.
Becoming a Firewall for the children of our country is actually the need of the hour for every citizen. Please do remember, the future of our country will only be as promising as the way we treat our children now!
(This article has been contributed by Aparajita Sharma, a child right's activist)