Newsletter, May 2014
From the Chairperson's desk

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier this month, our partner organisation in India, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) rescued a fifteen year old girl. The girl, born to a family of untouchables, was sold off into marriage for a sum of 4 lakh Indian rupees (6,752 USD) by her own family members when she was barely twelve. Sexually exploited by her husband and forced into prostitution by her in-laws, the girl was finally rescued after three long years in a joint operation by the police, BBA and another NGO. I salute her spirit and her courage. I see her as a symbol of victory in a country where almost forty girls under fifteen are sold into prostitution every day.

As I write this, my thoughts are drawn to the hundreds of girls in Nigeria whose futures remain uncertain. The inability to protect and free these girls is the failure of not just the Nigerian government but of the human rights fraternity across the world. While world leaders and lawmakers unite to bring these girls back, the laws in certain countries like Iraq are raising serious questions about the well-being of girls and women of the land. The much talked about Jaafari Personal Status Law seeks to bring down the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 9 or even younger. Needless to say, a regressive stand like this would not only have detrimental effects on the physical and psychological well-being of girls but also violate the international instruments like the ‘Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women’ and UN ‘Convention on the rights of the child’ that Iraq is signatory to. Similarly, the Islamic Republic Civil Code of Iran sets the legal age of marriage in Iran as 13 and 15 for girls and boys respectively, which clearly breaches the international conventions.

Steps such as these do not augur well with children, especially the girl child who still remains the most vulnerable in society. Standing at a gender disadvantage right from birth or perhaps even before it, girls are far more likely to be victims of sexual abuse, trafficking, violence and forced migration. Behind this culture of discrimination and inequality stand age-old customs, religious norms and cultural stereotypes for which we only have ourselves to blame.

Global March has not only been vigilant but has been actively challenging the many biases and prejudices within the socio-political landscape. In the first quarter of 2014, Global March along with partner organisations, had written to the head of state of Bolivia to oppose the ongoing discussion to lower the minimum age of employment to 12 (which is 14 at present as per the Children and Adolescent Code of Bolivia).  Global March has also appealed to the governments of Iran and Iraq for upholding the best interest of children in their respective countries. In March 2014, a Guardian/ Observer investigation tracked the slave route from a tea estate owned by a consortium in Assam through to the homes of Delhi's booming middle classes to rescue 19 year old Somila sold by traffickers for a mere 250 pounds. The rescue operation led by BBA brought to light the abysmally poor working conditions and low wages of the tea-pickers of Assam making these estates breeding grounds for human trafficking, particularly child trafficking. As a follow-up, Global March wrote to the corporate members of the Ethical Tea Partnership calling on them to respect the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, the ILO’s core labour standards and the rule of the law in India.

Modern-day slavery is undeniably blatant violation of human rights. Out of the 21 million people in forced labour, 5.5 million children are in slavery /slavery like conditions. There is a general opinion that slavery, despite the pervasiveness of the issue, is neither a political nor a social priority. The need of the hour is thus for all stakeholders to come together and demand for the inclusion of child slavery in the post 2015 Development Agenda. To achieve this, Global March has been in discussions with the anti-child slavery community worldwide in a collective endeavor to galvanise political will and action against child slavery.

The incidence of child slavery is also an impediment in the way of attainment of education for all which Global March has always held as non-negotiable in its fight against child labour. These children miss out on education and learning and thus continue to languish in vicious circle of poverty and deprivation. At the III Global Conference on Child Labour (III GCCL) held in Brasila last year, I had highlighted that governments must spend at least 6% of their respective GDP’s on education with new innovative methods to be explored to bridge the gap in financing education for all. A recent development has been the establishment of the Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. Tim Ryan, Asia Regional Programme Director, Solidarity Centre, USA who is one of the Global March Board members represented us at the plenary session of the Emergency Coalition Meet held in April this year at Washington D.C. With initiatives such as these, I feel a little more positive about the future of the 57 million children still out of school and am optimistic that we will inch closer to the EFA goals before time runs out.

I end this letter with a strong hope that amidst growing chorus for rescuing the school girls in Nigeria, we will be able to bring them back unharmed.


Kailash Satyarthi
Chairperson

Updates

Union Labour Minister of India Reaffirms His Support For The Child Labour Amendment Bill

January 21, 2014
The year began on a positive note for civil society organisations in India striving for a strong anti-child labour law in India.

Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister of Labour and Employment, Government of India reaffirmed his support to the Child Labour (Prohibition & Amendment) Bill post submission of a letter of appeal from Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson Global March and Founder Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA). The law, once amended, would pave the way for India to ratify two of the long pending core ILO conventions, namely 138 on minimum age of employment and 182 on worst forms of child labour.

The reaffirmation of the Minister comes after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour had upheld most of the recommendations made by Global March and BBA last year. With the formation of new government at the centre, Global March and partner organisations in India would pursue the policy makers to expedite the passage of the aforsaid bill when the Parliament resumes legislative business.

Open Letter to Tea Manufacturers and Distributors Regarding Slavery in Tea Plantations of Assam

March 06, 2014
Following an investigation by the Guradian/Observer through the tea plantations of Assam to New Delhi which resulted in the rescue of 19 year old Somila belonging to Nahorani Tea Estate in Assam by Global March’s partner organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) , Global March wrote an open letter to all companies that manufacture or distribute tea highlighting the plight of workers due to depressingly low wages, absence of healthcare and educational facilities that result in human trafficking and particularly child trafficking being rampant in these estates. The letter called upon these businesses to ensure a statutory minimum wage for workers and provide for healthcare, education and social protection schemes in alignment with national and international frameworks.

Global March Policy Paper on ‘Out-of-School’ Children and Child Labour

March 24, 2014
The Global March upholds the three-pronged strategy or Triangular Paradigm which interlinks the elimination of child labour, achievement of Education for All (EFA) and poverty alleviation with each being both cause and effect for the other.  Thus access to education is one of the key components within the broader objective of poverty alleviation. Re-iterating this strategy, Global March, in March 2014, launched its policy paper on ‘Out-of School Children and Child Labour’.

The paper focuses particularly on the ‘hard-to-reach’ children and within them child labourers. Moreover, a large number of children engaged in the worst forms of child labour are a direct result of exclusion from education. The document also explores the major obstacles to attaining universal primary education and eliminating child labour such as gender discrimination, conflicts, low quality and inequity in learning, insufficient allocation of funds to education and low learning achievements.

With 57 million out of school children of primary age (2011), the onus is on governments, policy-makers, academicians and civil society to pledge their will and resources towards education for all.

In Focus

When: 3:30 to 6:00 PM on Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Where:
 Constitution Club of India, New Delhi

For more details log on to: www.globalmarch.org


Sign The Petition To Support A Strong Protocol To The ILO Forced Labour Convention

"21 million children, women and men are trapped in forced labour- a kind of modern day slavery. It is non-negotiable and must be stopped now. I urge you to sign the petition".

- Kailash Satyarthi

Sign the Peition NOW!

Situational Analyses of Child Domestic Labour in Togo and Panama

Global March has conducted situational analyses on the issue of child domestic labour in Indonesia, Panama and Togo where Global March is carrying out focused action under its current campaign on child domestic labour, FREE: Free From Exploitation For Education. The situational analyses for Panama and Togo have been finalised. The analysis conducted by IDEMI in Panama and WAO Afrique in Togo entailed the identification of the causes of child domestic labour, evaluation of relevant national legal and policy framework and interventions, and proposing recommendations for addressing the same. The analysis covered a range of stakeholders including child domestic labourers, employers, government officials, trade unions, NGOs and local community leaders.

Read the report on Panama in English & Spanish

Read the report on Togo in English & French


Advancing the Dialogue against Child Labour – Chairperson’s Mission to Europe

The Chairperson undertook an extensive mission to Europe in February 2014. The 16-day mission included the Chairperson’s address at the Royal Society of Medicine, London on the perils of child labour and the hearing at the Dutch Parliament on Bangladesh’s garment manufacturing sector attended by Ms.   Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development – Netherlands Government, along with other members of the associated parliamentary  committee. Mr. Satyarthi was also invited to ‘Speak Truth to Power – Voices from Beyond the Dark’ at the European Parliament by its author Ms. Kerry Kennedy. At the Speak Truth to Power event in Brussels, parliamentarians from the EU and Hollywood stars hailed the monologues of Human Rights Defenders including that of Mr. Kailash Satyarthi.

Global March sends out appeal to Bolivia, Iran and Iraq

The discourse on Child rights in Bolivia, Iran and Iraq has hit an all time low, with the children in these countries at a precarious juncture more than ever.

The ongoing debate in Bolivia to reduce the minimum age of employment from 14 to 12 years is a regressive move, which, if implemented, would expose these children to unprecedented risk of trafficking, slavery, servitude, forced labour and violence thereby perpetuating a cycle of illiteracy and poverty. Global March along with its board members comprising leaders in the field of child rights, education, anti-trafficking and human development from 11 countries and other partners like Human Rights Watch and Anti-Slavery International submitted an urgent appeal to Bolivian President Evo Morales to not support this regressive move and ensure quality and meaningful education to its children.

Similarly, the Jaafari Personal Status Law in Iraq also drew the attention of human rights activists worldwide. The draft law pending with the Parliament of Iraq for its approval reduces the marriageable age of girls from 18 to nine years or even younger (with a parent’s approval). Global March in its letter to the Council of Representatives in Iraq made an urgent appeal to the 243 parliamentarians to save the Iraqi girl child and not vote in favour of the Jaafari Personal Law which would negatively impact not just girls and women but the very foundations of the country.  Global March has heard back from the Chair, Labour and Social Affairs Committee, Iraqi Council of Representatives,  that the policy makers are seriously considering to reject the controversial tenets of the Bill that pertains to reducing the marriageable age for Girls. Akin to this situation has been the passage of Article 27 of “The Protection of Children and Adolescents with No Guardian or Abusive Guardian” by the Parliament of Iran which permits the adoptive parent to marry the adoptive child leading to physical and sexual abuse of children at home.  Equally alarming is the Islamic Republic Civil Code which sets the legal age of marriage in Iran as 13 and 15 for girls and boys respectively.  Global March in its appeal to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran presented a series of demands including a ban on child labour in the ‘best interest of Iranian children’.  

Partner Activities

Colombia

Fundación Mundo Mejor In Guinness Book Of World Records

April 07, 2014
Global March congratulates its partner in Colombia, Fundación Mundo Mejor for securing the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the largest rag doll in the world. The rag doll 'NANA' was the mascot during the recently held 10th National Fair on Childhood for the sensitisation of people towards protection, promotion and restoration of the rights of the child.  

India

Youth Power Takes Centre Stage at the Bal Ashram Youth Conclave

March 22, 2014
Global March partner oganisation in India, BBA organised a ‘Youth Conclave’ which witnessed the participation of more than a thousand youths from across 25 villages in Viratnagar, Rajasthan, India. Supported by Global March, the event was an attempt to share the experiences and the lessons learnt in the making of Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Villages) by BBA in Rajasthan.

The event was inaugurated by Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, and presided over by Amarlal, a former child labourer and now a law student. The event covered by two of the leading Hindi dailies in India spoke volumes about the impact of the initiative and the power of the youth.

Pakistan

Child Domestic Labour Rampant in Pakistan

The year started on a grim note with a series of atrocities on child domestic labourers in Pakistan with the death of two girls employed as domestic helps in Lahore (Punjab), Pakistan. Sadly, these incidents are not new in Pakistan where 21 cases of domestic abuse including 8 deaths had been reported in 2013 alone. Despite the increasing cases of abuse of children as domestic helps, child domestic labour continues to be excluded from the national child labour laws.

The Employment of Children Act 1991 in its schedule of banned occupations does not include child domestic labour, deeming it a non-hazardous activity for children to engage in. In June 2013, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo moto action against child domestic labour declaring it a form of slavery and unconstitutional and directed the governments to take measures accordingly. However, there is considerable work to be done to tackle child domestic labour and an amendment in the laws remains pending

Global March in its protest regarding these atrocities submitted a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan demanding stringent and time-bound action against the perpetrators of child labour. To further strengthen action against CDL, Global March also ran a petition on Avaaz.org to ban child domestic labour in Pakistan.

For more information: See http://globalmarch.org/Child-Labour-Domestic/about/whats-new.php

A Celebration of Nomadic Culture at GODH Lahore Gypsy Mela
                                                                                                                                                                 
March 06, 2014
Global March partner organization in Lahore, Grassroot Organisation for Human Development (GODH), since its inception in 1998 has focused on the neglected and often marginalised indigenous nomadic (Gypsy) children.  In order to create an environment of social cohesion and inclusion for these communities, GODH has been organising events to promote the culture of these tribes. Continuing with this tradition, GODH Lahore organised a two-day event called ‘Gypsy Mela’ on the 4th and 5th of March, 2014 in Lahore, Pakistan focusing on the theme of ‘Identity’ (social and legal). The event was a gala one replete with performers and musicians celebrating the richness of the customs, traditions and the arts of these indigenous tribes. Alongside, a conference was also held to engage civil society actors, government line departments and the media on the issue of gypsy rights and identity.  A NADRA (National Database & Registration Authority) mobile wagon was also brought in to facilitate the registration of the members of the Gypsy community as citizens and thus help in incorporating them as a part of mainstream society.

For more updates, please log on www.globalmarch.org
This newsletter is for the period 1 January to 15 May 2014

Global March Against Child Labour
International Secretariat
E-mail: info@globalmarch.org
Telephone Number: +91 11 4132 9025
Fax Number: +91 11 4053 2072

Address: Global March Against Child Labour, L-6, Kalkaji, New Delhi-110 019, India