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Child Labour: Are We Living A Peaceful or a Piece-ful World?

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By Pallavi Murthy:

When I was a small girl I always had a doubt about the shape of the Earth. My mother then used to compare the shape of Earth to that of the shape of an egg. Since then I started comparing the Earth to an egg. I think this conception of mine will help us understand the present state of Earth. When you look at an egg from outside it looks smooth, calm and quite. But inside it goes on a struggle for existence. The same is with the world we live in. It looks calm and peaceful from outside but deep inside it is the struggle for existence (what they call the survival of the fittest). Everyone is trying to survive, not live!!! In order to survive we have forgotten our own moral values.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space; we’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.”

The Cracked Egg

This egg that we are living in is pressurized by the threats of hatred, violence, terrorism, corruption, child labor and child abuse, etc. The forces of these threats have compelled the egg to crack. If we do not take appropriate measures to foster love and peace then this cracked egg will one day surely break into several pieces.

Let me discuss these threats in brief.

Child Labor/Child Abuse

Children are the gift of God. They are innocent and calm. Children are the future of the country. Then why this disparity between a child born with silver spoons and a child deprived of basic amenities. Yes, I am talking about child labor that has spread its menacing tentacles in almost every direction today.

The term child labour refers to employment of child. Today we see children of the age group 8-14yrs working in the most unhygienic and pathetic condition. This is the age when the child should be at school and not work in horrible conditions like that of cracker/incense stick manufacturing factories, quarries etc. Every morning you can find at least one child washing dirty tea cups at a bus stop or a child distributing newspaper and milk packets to the residents especially in a colony area. Some children work as tourist guides and most of the times tend to misguide the tourists. Also most of the children are found begging on the streets or selling fake articles on the streets. In a city like Mumbai, on every second lane you’ll find a child polishing shoes of the so called ‘gentlemen’.
Why should a child face all this? Just because he is born to a family below the poverty line!!! Everyday children who belong to very poor families are exploited.

Child Labor is one of the major problems in India. There are adverse effects of child Labor.

  1. Child is deprived of a proper childhood
  2. The child gets tortured both mentally and physically.
  3. Also, one major effect of child labor is that the child gets matured mentally too early.
  4. Thanks to child labor, children get entangled in the vicious circle of corruption.
  5. They expertise in pick pocketing, learn to give and take bribes and fool people.
  6. Child labor creates and perpetuates poverty.

We know that children are the future of the country. Child labor teaches a child to be dishonest, corrupted, noxious, deleterious etc. If the children of a country were to grow up with such qualities then what would the future of such a country be? We talk about developing our country. We wish to be called a developed country. How can our country develop when social evils like child labor exist in our country? If India really needs to progress we need to first eliminate such social evils. Just blindly aping the west will not develop the future of the country. Efforts need to be taken to eliminate child labor. It’s obviously not an easy task but it’s not impossible either. Let us all work together to achieve this difficult task.

Poverty

Poverty is the lack of basic amenities needed by a human being to survive in this world. These include proper clothing, shelter, food, water and a clean environment. In India, poverty is widespread. India is estimated to have a third of the world’s poor. One of the main causes of poverty is increase in the cost of living. Also due to unemployment many of the families live below the poverty line. Most of these people spend their lives on the streets while on the other hand the rich sleep on cushioned beds.

On cold bitter wintry nights,

When under the blankets we sleep,

There on the streets are they,

Who spend sleepless nights.

No beds, nor pillows,

No blankets, No bed sheets,

There on the streets they sit,

Where the rich but uncivilized spit.

For fads and fantasies we spend,

But not a penny to them we lend,

For a helping hand they ask,

And instead we put on a disgusted mask.

For Pizzas and burgers we cry,

But of hunger those people die,

There on the streets alone they lie,

Oh those poor people, what a sigh!!!

The effects of poverty are hunger, illiteracy, diseases and in turn death of the people. All of us together need to fight against poverty. Poverty reduction involves economic liberalization, Investments in human capital, in the form of health; education and infrastructure is needed for economic growth. Other ways include aiding in the simplest form, empowering women and setting up good institutions that provide security to property and businesses. Poverty can as such not be completely eliminated but can surely be reduced if we make an attempt to minimize it.

Other threats that pressurize the cracked egg include hatred, decline of community, unemployment, illiteracy, corruption, terrorism etc. In a way all these menaces are inter-linked. If we want to save the cracked egg, we need to take the right measures as soon as possible before it gets too late and the egg breaks.

“Prevention is better than cure”

If we take the appropriate steps now, we can surely save the egg from breaking. So how does the journey to creating a peaceful world begin? Well, the answer to this is very simple. The first step has to be taken by me myself as an individual.

“Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Image courtesy: http://edutail.com/buzz/child-labour-a-social-crime-let-save-the-child/460

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

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