Rescued child labourer is jury member for international prizeApril 12th, 2008 - 6:42 pm ICT by admin
Patna, April 12 (IANS) Thirteen-year-old Rakesh Kumar from Bihar, who spent six years in forced labour and was rescued by an NGO, has been selected as a jury member for World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (WCPRC) in Sweden. “He left for Sweden Thursday to participate as a child jury member for selection of prize winners,” said an official of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), an NGO here.
An international jury, consisting of children who are experts on child rights through their own experiences as child soldiers, refugees, street children or slaves, choose the recipient of the award.
Rakesh, a resident of a village in Saharsa district, about 200 km from here, was kidnapped and forced into child labour until rescued by the BBA in Punjab’s Amritsar district in 2006.
“When I was about six years old, I was taking my parents’ cattle out to graze with my friends when a man offered us sweets. I ended up being kidnapped and forced to work as a slave for six years,” says Rakesh in a statement on the WCPRC website.
According to a BBA official, Rakesh was treated like a slave, forced to work for 16 hours a day under inhuman conditions.
He used to share bed with animals and spend cold nights without a blanket or adequate food. “He told his challenging story, full of misery, after he was rescued,” the official said.
Impressed by Rakesh’s story of courage and struggle, he was selected as a jury member for the prize for a five-year term last year.
At present Rakesh is a class IV student in Viratnagar near Nepal border and lives in child care home run by BBA.
“Rakesh has become a voice against child labour in rural Bihar, which is a fertile ground for traffickers,” the BBA official said.
The World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child was started in 1999 by the Swedish Children’s World Association to recognise outstanding contributions of those who defend child rights. It is a Swedish National Millennium Project.
Its patrons include Queen Silvia of Sweden, Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela and Joseph Stiglitz and former executive director of Unicef Carol Bellamy.