NEW DELHI: Declaring a war on child sexual abuse and trafficking, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi launched his coveted Bharat Yatra campaign on Tuesday to strengthen the fight against the moral epidemic across the country.
Manifesting his belief in the ‘Surakshit Bachpan-Surakshit Bharat’ campaign, the yatra which is scheduled to begin from September 11 will pass through 22 states covering 15,000 kms and union territories over 35 days.
The yatra will flag off from Kanyakumari at the Vivekananda memorial in the South followed by Guwahati and Srinagar leading from the eastern and northern stretches of India. Besides this, there will be six separate yatras from other parts of the country that will culminate in Delhi on October 16.
Speaking at the curtain-raiser, Satyarthi remarked, “Today I am announcing Bharat Yatra, the biggest movement in history to make India safe again for children. I refuse to accept that the innocence, smiles and freedom of our children can keep getting stripped and raped. These are not ordinary crimes but a moral epidemic haunting our nation.”
The sister of 16-year old abuse victim Gudiya who was abducted and raped on her way back from school in Shimla was also present at the event "Gudiya's fight is everyone's fight. But whatever happened with her must not happen with any other. They should be given the harshest sentence," remarked Manu.
The launch also saw other families of victims of trafficking and abuse who narrated the emotional and physical trauma they had to endure because of the misdeeds of a few. The families pledged their support hoping that it would bring about the revolution, the country needs to sustain its fight against the exploitation of children.
The hidden sin of child sexual abuse is growing at an alarming rate with 15,000 cases reported under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act)."Every hour, two children are sexually abused in India. But the rate of prosecution is 6 percent, conviction less than 4 percent," remarked Satyarthi.
Keeping the startling reality in mind, the campaign aims at increasing awareness and reporting of the cases, strengthening institutional response including medical health and compensations, ensuring protection for victims and witnesses during trials and increasing convictions of child sexual abuse in a time bound manner.
With the targeted reach of 1 crore, the Nobel Laureate said that the campaign is expected to be the largest congregation of stakeholders fighting the menace. As part of the ground work, he travelled across the length and breadth of the country meeting parliamentarians, faith leaders, corporate, citizens, social organizations, among others to pledge their support to the noble cause.