'I can't explain the joy each time I've freed a child': Nobel winner

Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:19pm EDT
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By Nita Bhalla and Antonio Zappulla

NEW DELHI/LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In the 34 years since Kailash Satyarthi gave up his job as an electrical engineer to campaign for children's rights, the Indian Nobel Peace Prize winner has been beaten, seen his home attacked and his colleagues killed.

    Yet attempts on his life have not deterred Satyarthi from a mission to save children from slavery and end trafficking in India where he estimates 60 million children, or 6 percent of the population, are forced to work.

    "I strongly believe ... that freedom is divine. Freedom is godly. God made us free. We fight for something that God has given to all of us," Satyarthi, 60, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation earlier this year.

    "We know that slavery in general, but child slavery in particular, is largely a neglected or ignored area. Most countries do not agree that they have child slavery," he added.

    After switching careers, Satyarthi founded one of India's most well-known child rights groups, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) in 1980.

He has since helped rescue more than 70,000 children from brick kilns, stone quarries, carpet loom factories, circuses, sweatshops and farms.

The activist, normally seen in a long traditional cotton kurta, has also taken on the struggle for children across the world and founded one of the world's largest civil rights movements, the Global March Against Child Labour.


Indian children's right activist Kailash Satyarthi waves to the media at his office in New Delhi October 10, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi