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Nobel Peace laureate calls for action against child exploitation

All Headlines 21:24 September 11, 2016

By Lee Haye-ah

NEW DELHI, Sept. 11 (Yonhap) -- Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi has called for more action against child exploitation in the world, saying there is no greater violence than denying children their dreams.

The Indian activist made the call during an international media conference here Friday, adding that journalists have the knowledge and information to help that campaign.

"I have looked into their frightened and exhausted eyes," the winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize said in an emphatic speech before hundreds of journalists attending the East-West Center's 5th International Media Conference. "I've held their injured bodies and felt their broken spirits. If children in any part of the world are deprived of their childhood, the world cannot be at peace.

The 62-year-old has been at the forefront of efforts to rescue children from forced labor and human trafficking. As the founder of Global March Against Child Labor, a civil society network campaigning against child exploitation, he has led the rescue of more than 80,000 children in 144 countries from child slavery and other forms of abuse.

According to Satyarthi, more than 160 million children in the world are still victims of child labor.

"I refuse to accept that the laws and constitutions are unable to protect our children," he said. "Today is a time for every child to have a right to life. I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can be stronger than the quest for freedom."

The former electrical engineer has been attacked numerous times, but he has refused to give in to the threats on his life.

"Whose daughters or sons are these?” asked the father of two.

Human trafficking is a lucrative industry, but it is also a crime that can be tackled with the dedication of those who are willing, Satyarthi said. The number of child laborers in the world has dropped from 260 million to 168 million over the past 15 years, thanks in part to media coverage, he noted.

The Nobel laureate also stressed the importance of education in ending the vicious circle of child labor, illiteracy and poverty.

While it takes just four and a half days for the world to spend US$22 billion on military expenses, it would only cost $39 billion to provide primary and secondary education to all children in Asia, according to Satyarthi.

"It's a question of priority and responsibility toward each other. We can do it," he said. "The main thing is, do something."

hague@yna.co.kr
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