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No Swacch Bharat without children’s rights: Kailash Satyarthi

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Kailash_Satyarthi_March_2015New Delhi: Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi on Monday said the Indian laws still do not define child labour in a definitive way and that ‘Swachh Bharat’ cannot be attained if children’s rights are not protected.

How can the country be ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India) if childhood is not protected and children do not have access to quality education, Satyarthi asked while lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ (Save girl child, educate girl child) campaign.

“Even if our country’s Gross Domestic Product is as high as 15 percent, it is still a challenge for India if children remain enslaved,” Satyarthi added while addressing a session on ‘Child rights and issues’ at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The Right to Education (RTE) Act has increased enrollment in schools, but drop-out rate has been equally high. This points to the need for quality education in our schools. The RTE is a fundamental right which opens the door to all other rights,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner laureate said.

According to a World Bank study, each dollar invested in education will give 15-fold returns in 20 years, he said, and sought from , the government, industries and civil societies liberal investments in children’s education.

Satyarthi is the founder of ‘Bachpan Bachao Aandolan’, an organisation aimed at protecting child rights.

“Child labour has to be defined in a more elaborate way under the law. Child labour within the family has remained a dicey aspect and has never been included under the Child Labour Act, which still has lacuna,” he said.

In cases where children help their family members at work, it should not be at the expense of their education, Satyarthi said.boy-330582_640

A child cannot be employed in hazardous conditions, despite being with family members, he said and added that the law has failed to include these areas under its ambit.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act has a list of 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes which, he said, should be retained in amendments.

India has the largest child population in the world and the government pegs the number of child labourers around 45 lakh, while non-governmental agencies fix this figure at more than five crore, the child rights activist remarked.

“All children up to the age of 18 are entitled to care and protection and access to education under the law. Unfortunately, this has not been done in the past, but we need to make sure it is enforced properly,” Satyarthi added.

On the proposed legislation on juvenile justice, Satyarthi said the amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act is very important in dealing with cases where juveniles have committed heinous crimes like rape or murder.

The bill seeks to lower from 18 to 16 years the culpable age of a juvenile to be tried as an adult for heinous crimes. (IANS)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Childhood is that part of life which cannot be forgotten, if children have memories like exploitation, physical violence, workers at an early age, it becomes very difficult for them to come out of it. Therefore, steps should be taken to enforce the child laws strictly and immediately

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Childhood is that part of life which cannot be forgotten, if children have memories like exploitation, physical violence, workers at an early age, it becomes very difficult for them to come out of it. Therefore, steps should be taken to enforce the child laws strictly and immediately

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Lack of Proper Sanitation Affects 620 Million Children Around The World: Report

Despite the improvements, more than a third of the girls in South Asia miss school for one to three days a month during their period.

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A new toilet recently installed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

A lack of proper school toilets threatens the health, education and safety of at least 620 million children around the world, the charity WaterAid said in a new study published Friday.

Children at 1 in 3 schools lack access to proper toilets, putting them at risk of diarrhea and other infections and forcing some to miss lessons altogether, according to the study, based on data from 101 countries.

Guinea-Bissau in West Africa has the worst school toilets while Ethiopian children fare worst at home, with 93 percent of homes lacking a decent toilet according to the report, released ahead of World Toilet Day on Monday.

toilets, students
Students arrive for class at the Every Nation Academy private school in the city of Makeni in Sierra Leone, April 20, 2012. VOA

“The message here is that water and sanitation affect everything,” WaterAid spokeswoman Anna France-Williams told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If there’s no toilet in schools, children will miss lessons and it will have an impact on their growing up.”

Diarrhea, infection risk

A lack of proper sanitation puts millions of children around the world in danger of diarrhea, which kills 289,000 children younger than 5 a year, WaterAid said.

But some regions have started to clean up their act, notably South Asia, where access to toilets in schools has improved.

More than half the schools in Bangladesh now have access to decent toilets, while students in 73 percent of schools in India and 76 percent of those in Bhutan can access basic sanitation.

Akramul Islam, director of water, sanitation and hygiene at the Bangladeshi charity BRAC, said the country’s once-high levels of open defecation — using open ground rather than toilets — were now less than 1 percent.

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India’s plight in sanitation has not improved much since ages.
Pixabay

“Today, schools have separate toilets for girls and boys and the issue of menstrual hygiene is also being addressed,” he said. “This has happened because of initiatives taken by both the government, the NGOs and other stakeholders.”

Also Read: 3 HIV+ Students Banned From School in Indonesia

Improvement needed

Despite the improvements, more than a third of the girls in South Asia miss school for one to three days a month during their period, WaterAid said, urging greater investment in basic sanitation.

“If we are serious about all children and young people, wherever they are, whatever their gender, physical ability or community background, having their right to clean water and sanitation, we must take decisive and inclusive action now,” said Chief Executive Tim Wainwright. (VOA)