Abused children need immediate attention, issue of politicians can wait: Kailash Satyarthi (IANS Interview)

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Noida, June 1 (IANS) Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who has travelled to different countries to fight for children’s rights, feels India is going through an “epidemic” situation where no child is safe even inside their houses. This, he says, needs immediate attention.

“Children and their issues have to be be addressed now. Politicians can wait for the next election and prioritise their issues, but the children cannot wait for the next day or next hour,” Satyarthi told IANS here.

“A child could be in danger, could be raped, could be trafficked or could be stolen, so that is the time when you need immediate response and do all the preventive measures which is not normally not done in society,” he said.

The activist was at the Superhits 93.5 RED FM’s office here as the radio station has come up with another edition of their annual “Bajao For A Cause” initiative and this year they have associated with The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation to raise money for ‘Surakshit Bachpan Fund’. RED FM is also bringing the stories of brave survivor on-air for this CSR initiative.

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Satyarthi created ‘Surakshit Bachpan Fund’ in the wake of his Bharat Yatra to combat child sexual abuse and trafficking. The lack of medical, rehabilitation, educational, vocational and legal structure and aide for victims and survivors of child sexual assault and their families made him come up with this fund.

“This is an important initiative not just to create awareness but also to engage people for a bigger cause that is a moral epidemic and is growing in our society very fast. The children are not safe inside their homes, schools, buses, public places and no parents can feel fearless for their children if they do not come back home,” he said.

“So this will definitely help in creating awareness where people can speak out, especially children who can talk about sexual abuse. Many a times they don’t talk because it is considered a social taboo. The most unfortunate part of this sickness of our society is that we stigmatise the victim and protect the offenders,” he said.

“We are fighting on all these issues,” he added.

Satyarthi says he created Surakshit Bachpan Fund when he spoke to rape victims and children who have faced sexual abuse.

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“We can keep on fighting with the government for their policies and actions but let us begin ourselves. They not only need medical support but psychological and legal support too. There’s a lot of corruption involved,” he said.

“Police delay the cases and then the government persecutors also delay things, so we don’t have adequate legal and judicial infrastructure. I thought of engaging the best lawyers, psychologist and doctors. If we have to pay, we will pay,” he added.

Satyarthi also emphasised parents to share friendly relationships with children.

“To create a child-friendly world, let us begin with family. The parents should behave as a friend and that means respecting children, respecting their childhood, respecting their voice, listening to them carefully, understanding them and not imposing yourself,” he says.

“In a society, we had this trend for ages that adults think that they are wise. But I always see and say that please sit with your children, listen to them and learn from them,” he said.

“Because of the silence of children which is imposed on them, they cannot speak out. We know that four children are raped or sexually abused every hour but that is a government statistic. Reality could be ten times, 20 times bigger and bitter,” he added.

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Satyarthi, who will be travelling to Brazil later this month to address issues like child labour, sexual abuse and trafficking, says people-to-people connect with different countries is important to curb such issues globally.

He has been working with Pakistan, which faces a similar situation like India when it comes to child abuse.

Satyarthi, who jointly shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, told IANS: “I have been working in Pakistan much before my beautiful daughter was born. I was fighting and sometimes my life was in danger, sometimes I was deported from Pakistan, and sometimes the government there raised voice against me, blaming me as a RAW agent.”

He holds that Pakistani children were his children too and he has worked for them for many years. “People-to-people connect is the key. We learn how to work together through sustainable peace and the relationship building between two nations,” he said.

(Nivedita can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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