South Asia: a committee against child slavery
by Christopher Sharma
Indian Nobel Prize laureate Satyarthi and Brazilian Senator Buarque are behind the initiative. Poverty and traditions explain the extent of the problem in South Asia. The group underscores the importance of a joint struggle and better education. Likewise, "religious teachers are crucial in reducing child slaveryā€¯.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Lawmakers, mostly from South Asia, have come together for the first time to discuss what to do to end child slavery.

The 22 legislators, who came from nine different countries, met during a two-day conference held over the weekend in the Nepali capital, organised by Nobel peace laureate and children's rights activist Kailash Satyarthi and Brazilian Senator Cristovam Buarque.

Participants agreed to set up a group called ‘Parliamentarians without Borders for Children's Rights’ to work together to find ways to protect children.

“A new political culture where lawmakers from all around the globe join one platform to fight for child rights is crucial to end child labour and slavery”, Nobel laureate Satyarthi said.

“Such initiative will help in the mobilisation of political support to make a safer and better world for children,” he added.

For the Indian child activist, “This is global problem but traditional practices and poverty in the South Asian region have further intensified the problem”.

The Nobel Prize laureate, together with Brazilian Senator Cristovam Buarque, insist on the importance of a good education system to end slavery and child trafficking.

During the conference, Satyarthi also appealed to religious leaders, of every faith, "to stand together” to show solidarity to the movement. “Religion and religious teachers,” he said, “are crucial in reducing child slavery and labour in the region."

One of the outcomes of the Kathmandu meeting was the creation of a steering committee whose task is to turn the group into an international sustainable movement. This includes setting up two secretariats in Nepal and Brazil.

Constituent Assembly member Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary, who represents Nepal in the steering committee, said he wants to consolidate all the steps undertaken to promote children’s rights.

“There are so many organisations that are working in the same sector,” Chaudhary noted. For this reason, “we need to consolidate and unify our resources for a better outcome”. 

The group also plans to include tougher policies on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda.

It also wants to fund education for the hardest-to-reach children, encourage corporate and business accountability, and develop international cooperation and measures to tackle trans-border trafficking of children and humans.

According to the Global March against Child Labour – a worldwide network of trade unions, social organisations and teachers’ associations – 168 million children are exploited in the world, mostly in South Asia.