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Kailash Satyarthi recipient of 2007 US State Department's Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery Award


Grassroots Activist Made Ending Child Labour Global Cause


Kailash Satyarthi credited with freeing 75,000 bonded and child labourers Washington -- Kailash Satyarthi has freed more than 75,000 bonded and child labourers since 1980.


Using children for cheap labour was commonly accepted in India when Satyarthi began his campaign against it in the 1980s. Children often are treated like slaves, abused and sometimes not paid for long hours of work. Satyarthi and a handful of dedicated people raided employers to rescue children from bondage. They protested in the streets. They built rehabilitation centers to give former child labourers a chance.


For that work and his activism in focusing attention on forced labour, Satyarthi, a 53-year-old former electrical engineer in India, is among the recipients of the 2007 State Department’s Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery award.


Satyarthi’s activism started a movement that today has millions of supporters. The International Labour Organization adopted Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour, now a principal guideline for governments around the world, largely because of his work.


Satyarthi, an electrical engineer from Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, began his drive against child servitude in 1980, with the founding of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement). Initially, he organized workers in the quarries and brick kilns of northern India. Satyarthi, who puts grassroots involvement at the center of his work, networked with advocacy groups in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and founded the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude in 1989.


Raiding factories that employ forced labourers and organizing protest marches to advocate laws against child labour and trafficking have characterized his work from the start. The 1998 Global March against Child labour, which Satyarthi organized, drew 7.2 million participants across 103 countries. In 1999, he began the Global Campaign for Education, which links national and international nongovernmental organizations to promote universal education.


“Now people realize education is key to their liberation; education is key to their human rights and key to their poverty eradication programs,” Satyarthi told USINFO in April, while in Washington on a tour promoting universal education. “Education is a fundamental human right,” he said. (See related article.)


Concerned about the increased number of children trafficked for forced labour, Satyarthi led the South Asian March Against Child Trafficking in March 2007, a monthlong march across the Indian, Nepal and Bangladesh borders to raise awareness and call for regional commitment to counter a practice that deprives children of education, normal childhood and often places them in dangerous environments, including the sex trade.


Bachpan Bachao Andolan runs three “transit” rehabilitation centers for rescued boys and girls in India to help them enter the mainstream and lead constructive lives. Younger children are enrolled in school and adolescents are given informal literacy and vocational training. Once they acquire confidence and skills, former child labourers are reintegrated into society. Legal aid is also provided for victims.


Satyarthi also pioneered bringing social consciousness to the marketplace when he founded RugMark, an organization that offers voluntary “child-labour-free” certification of carpets and runs facilities that rehabilitate children rescued from servitude and keeps them out of the workplace. Now internationally recognized, the label appears in many upscale retail establishments.


“Mr. Satyarthi has worked relentlessly to free bonded children, to rehabilitate them with vocational training and education, and tilted the force of public opinion against child labour,” the State Department citation said.


The 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report is scheduled to be released on June 12.


For additional information, see 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report.


(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



Heroes Acting To End Modern-Day Slavery

Sara Susana del Valle Trimarco de Veron, Mother and Anti-Trafficking Activist, Argentina

To find her daughter, Marita, who was kidnapped five years ago by traffickers, Susana Trimarco de Veron has become an indomitable crusader against human trafficking. She has plunged into dangerous situations, disguising herself as a prostituted person in order to troll bars and alleys in search of anyone who might know where her daughter is. Despite false leads and death threats, she has uncovered evidence of trafficking networks operating in the Argentine provinces of La Rioja, Tucuman, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, and Santa Cruz. As a result of Susana's courageous work, 100 young women have been rescued from slavery. She has accompanied police on raids to arrest 24 suspected traffickers, 13 of whom have been formally charged. Susana was one of 10 "Women of Courage" from around the world honored by the U.S. Department of State in March 2007.


Lucy Blacio, Machala TIP Prosecutor, Victim and Witness Protection Coordinator, Ecuador

Lucy Blacio courageously enforces Ecuador's new anti-human trafficking legislation and has initiated investigations or prosecutions of more than 30 trafficking cases. She won the first conviction in Ecuador for the commercial sexual exploitation of minors in September 2006, and the first child pornography conviction in December 2006. Due to her rigorous efforts, both criminals received 12 years in prison. In April 2007, she won yet another conviction and prison sentence of four years for commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Lucy is under 24-hour police protection due to threats from defendants and defense attorneys disturbed by her prosecutorial efforts.


Patience Quaye, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Ghana

Patience Quaye's work was integral to the first-ever prosecution and conviction of a human trafficker in Ghana. Ms. Qauye negotiated with Nigerian authorities to gain extradition of the trafficker. She personally handled the case until a prosecution was secured. Even as the judge was announcing a 6-year jail term for the trafficker, Ms. Quaye was on the phone negotiating with Nigerian authorities to release two trafficking victims who were arrested and held in Nigeria.


Kailash Satyarthi, Activist: Global March Against Child Labor, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude (SACCS), Rugmark, India

A global leader in the fight against child labor, trafficking and forced labor, Kailash Satyarthi has liberated more than 75,000 bonded and child laborers since 1980.

Mr. Satyarthi has worked relentlessly to free bonded children, to rehabilitate them with vocational training and education and tilted the force of public opinion against child labor. His organizations provide direct legal assistance and advocacy for victims. His efforts have taken many different forms, some of them on massive international scale. For example, in 1998 he organized the Global March Against Child Labor, across 103 countries with the participation of 7.2 million people, and more than 10,000 civil society organizations. It was the largest peoples' campaign on child labor that led to the ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor.

Mr. Satyarthi is combating the use of child labor by creating domestic and international consumer resistance to products made by children in bonded labor. He started Rugmark, a program in which rugs are labeled and certified to be child-labor-free by factories that agree to be regularly inspected.

Recently, Mr. Satyarthi lead the South Asian March Against Child Trafficking, a month-long physical march across the Indo-Nepal-Bangladesh border to raise awareness on trafficking of children for forced labor, and to demand a South Asian regional protocol to combat trafficking for forced labor.


Wayhu Susilo, Founder and Director, Migrant Care, Indonesia

Wahyu Susilo is at the forefront of the battle to protect and secure rights for migrant workers in Indonesia. In 2000, he established an advocacy network of 80 organizations working to improve anti-trafficking legislation. Since migrant workers are susceptible to trafficking during the recruitment process, Wahyu Susilo has campaigned for stronger regulations governing recruitment by employment agencies. The organization he started, Migrant Care, has documented thousands of Indonesian migrant workers who have disappeared overseas and lobbied the Government of Indonesia to locate them. His efforts have significantly raised national consciousness regarding the reality of human trafficking, especially after the "Nunukan tragedy" in 2002, when the deportation of some 350,000 undocumented migrant workers from Malaysia caused a humanitarian crisis in arrival. Due to the government's deficient response, at least 85 people died and thousands of others contracted diseases.


Esohe Aghatise, Founding Director, IROKO Association, Italy/Nigeria

Activist Esohe Aghatise founded the NGO IROKO to provide assistance for women and girls trafficked to Italy from Nigeria. Trafficking survivors actively participate in the creation and implementation of programs and strategies for the community. Through Esohe's steady leadership, the IROKO Association provides assistance to women who have been trafficked and prostituted in Italy by providing transitional housing and child care, counseling, legal advocacy, immigration and economic assistance, vocational training, and employment placement. IROKO has initiated a new program in two senior high schools in Turin to combat the demand for prostitution. One point made in the curriculum is that male demand is a key factor in the promotion of sexual exploitation of women and girls. The program targets youth between the ages of 15 and 19. The IROKO Association will soon start a new program in Nigeria to assist trafficking victims returning home from European countries.


Lydia Cacho Ribiero, Author, Journalist, and Social Activist, Mexico

Lydia Cacho runs the Centro Integral de Atencion a la Mujer (the Integrated Service Center for Women) for sexual violence victims in Cancun. The center is considered one of the safest and most comprehensive facilities in the country, and it helps victims of human trafficking as well as sexual violence. She is one of the most vocal activists regarding the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children in Mexico, drawing considerable pressure and regular threats to cease her public advocacy for victims. Her book, The Demons of Eden: The Power Behind Pornography implicates Mexican businessmen in child pornography and child-sex tourism rings while tracing their connections to high-ranking government officials. Due to disclosures made in the book, Ms. Cacho was arrested in Cancun, driven 21 hours to Puebla by Mexican police and detained as a criminal on defamation and libel charges, until international outcry prompted her release on bail. Ms. Cacho fought the charges for more than a year until all were dropped in early 2007.


Yasmina Baddou, Secretary of State for Families, Children, and the Handicapped, Morocco

Yasmina Baddou is an indefatigable advocate for children's rights. She is dedicated to rescuing child laborers and child maids in Morocco and has brought to light the once taboo subject of children in domestic servitude. Ms. Baddou initiated Morocco's new Plan of Action to combat child labor to ensure that all children are protected from forced labor, and she launched rescue units to assist street children at risk of being exploited. A public awareness campaign aimed at sensitizing Moroccans to the dangers of employing child maids kicked off the Plan of Action. Although once widely accepted, more Moroccans now hesitate to employ children, which may deprive them of their education and normal development.


In Memoriam-Mrs. Vipula Kadri

The global anti-trafficking in persons community lost a valuable ally and friend on April 24, 2007 with the passing of Mrs. Vipula Kadri. Vipula was the founder and National Director of Save the Children India, an organization charged with preventing the abuse and exploitation of children. In 2000, Save the Children India launched the "Save Our Sisters" initiative, which brought together representatives from government, law enforcement, civil society, Bollywood celebrities, media, and private industry to raise awareness about trafficking of women and girls into commercial sexual exploitation in India.


Vipula was passionate about ending trafficking in persons and worked tirelessly to develop community-based initiatives and expand education and vocational opportunities for the most vulnerable. Save the Children India collaborated with over 250 like-minded NGOs in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh to raise awareness, share information, and assist victims of trafficking. Vipula was innovative in partnering with corporations throughout India. In 2003, she worked with a large hotel chain (Taj Hotels) to implement a sensitization program to prevent sex tourism and trafficking. She partnered with Jet Airways on the Magic Box to collect spare change for at-risk and trafficked children. She has left an indelible mark on the global effort to eradicate modern-day slavery.








Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000: Trafficking in Persons Report 2007

Kailash Satyarthi... the seeker of truth
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