Beyond the Net: #IStandAgainstChildLabour




Online campaigns on the World Wide Web are a fantastic opportunity to reach out to global audiences. Incidentally these very campaigns face the threat of extinction once the ‘days’ are over.

On June 12, World Day Against Child Labour was celebrated globally with several campaigns on the World Wide Web. Social media sites were abuzz with tweets and posts highlighting the significance of this day.   The subject of child labour peaked at an all time high on the internet. Hashtags such as #WorldDayAgainstChild Labour, #stopchildlabour, #Nochildlabour, #SayNoToChildLabour etc were trending. The World Wide Web appeared to be shouting out loud that child labour needs to be stopped, immediately.

Now almost a month later since the campaign was first launched, there is silence on this front.  The trending hashtags were quickly replaced with what are arguably more salient days or events such as Fathers Day, the Champions Trophy, etc.

Child labour though continues to be an issue that needs urgent and significant attention and action all year round.

India has more than one crore working children between the ages of 5-14 years as per Census of 2011. Out of these, 25.3 lakh working children in the country are between the ages of 5-9 years while 76 lakh working children are between the ages of 10-14 years.

Moreover, the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh account for more than 50% of the total child workers in the country. The Census further shows that while Maharashtra has 7. 27 lakh working children, its commercial capital Mumbai, has an estimated 55, 171 working children.

So this is certainly not a small problem.There is a need of personality development program for these children.

Since its inception in 1979, CRY-Child Rights and You has addressed the problem of child labour using many different approaches. CRY has also led some of India’s most ground-breaking initiatives in this area. An example of this is Dr. Shantha Sinha whose landmark work on child labour is today a model for eradication of child labour across India. It was first funded by CRY in 1989 at a time when no one believed child labour could be ended.   Dr. Sinha later went on to win a Padmashri award and a Magsaysay award for this work.

On June 12 this year, CRY’s own twitter campaign in collaboration with the Mumbai Police was launched.  The online campaign with the hashtag #IStandAgainstChildLabour was popular with retweets every second and minute of the hour.  Tweeting apart, the Mumbai Police did an impeccable job of accompanying our volunteers on the ground, across 93 police stations, targeting both residential and commercial establishments to spread the message across Mumbai city.  The campaign compelled thousands of Mumbai citizens to make a pledge to not to support child labour in any form.

#IStandAgainstChildLabour are important words, but to make a real and sustainable difference beyond these campaigns, what is needed is for each of us to completely change our perspective. To recognise that there cannot be an “us” and “them” when it comes to children, and what I want for my child should apply to other children. That ALL children have the right to a real childhood, to be in school, to have free time to play, regardless of whether they come from a slum or a village or a high rise in Cuffe Parade. That we are not doing any favours to that child being employed as domestic labour in our homes or serving us tea in our local chai stall – we are in fact burdening her with the responsibilities of adulthood, and not giving her the opportunity to meet her potential.

World Day Against Child Labour needs to be celebrated each year. Loudly. But it is in the way we live our lives every day in relation to children that will make all the difference. Let us tweet to that.

ABOUT CRY

CRY is an Indian NGO, founded in 1979 with a deep faith that happy, well-cared for children are the basis of a society worth living in, and that every single person or institution has the immense potential to be part of lasting change. These are beliefs that have always driven CRY, and since our inception we have grown into an institution that has transformed the lives of more than 2.5 million children in some of the most deprived areas of the country. For more information please contact mamta.sen@crymail.org

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