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Nobel wisdom for child safety

Ranchi, Sept. 25: Children should get pens and computers that are mightier than guns, Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi, 63, today said while urging Maoists and other rebel outfits to stop roping in youngsters in their operations.

A long-time advocate of child rights, Satyarthi was in Ranchi to flag off the fourth phase of his Bharat Yatra campaign against child sexual abuse that began from Kanyakumari on September 11 and would culminate in Delhi on October 22, covering a distance of 11,000km spread over 22 states and Union territories.

Governor Droupadi Murmu was the chief guest at the flag-off ceremony at RIMS auditorium this morning.

The 2014 Nobel laureate also interacted with children at Delhi Public School and representatives from different sections of society at Arya Samaj Mandir and spoke to the media in the afternoon.

"Children need to be given pens and computers that are now mightier than guns. The issues the Maoists are fighting for can't be resolved with bullets. For example, last year, 15,000 cases of sexual abuse were reported from across the country. Convictions took place in 4 per cent cases and the accused were exonerated in 6 per cent. The rest 90 per cent cases are pending and will take another 10 to 40 years for the disposal, if no new case is registered," he told journalists at state guest house.

He stressed on enacting a new law to prevent trafficking and sexual abuse of minors where the rehabilitation of both victims and their tormentors was included.

Existing laws (IPC and POCSO) had provisions to punish traffickers and tormentors of children but there was no separate law to rehabilitate victims and culprits.

"This separate central law for this uniformly applicable all over India. Our Bharat Yatra campaign is aimed at evoking mass consciousness on this issue," he said, adding he had also involved prominent leaders of different religious faiths in this campaign.

Satyarthi pointed out that report jointly released by the Centre and Unicef in 2007 confirmed 53 per cent children were victims of sexual abuse. "Not to speak of close relatives or regular visitors to the homes, some fathers too sexually exploiting daughters. Our fight is against such forces. Now India will speak out," said the activist who has a long association with Jharkhand, especially Koderma, where he has initiated 60 panchayats free of child labour.

He stressed the Nobel had not changed him. "I am not a celebrity. I am an activist. As a Nobel laureate, I get global attention as there are only 17 individual surviving Nobel peace prize winners in the world. Otherwise, nothing else has changed for me," he said.

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