India

Establishing a new custom to protect girls and transform societal norms

Modifying societal beliefs and norms are most successful when the change comes from within the community. Such a transformation is now happening after the birth of every girl in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. Villagers plant one hundred eleven (111) trees to honor the birth of the girl. The new custom aims to counteract the prevalence of female feticide by encouraging parents and villagers to plant trees in honor of a female child. It requires that parents promise to not marry their female child before adulthood, creates a community-funded trust fund for the child, and provides the community with the necessary resources to develop. Villagers have planted over 286,000 trees which are now providing not only a new tradition but environmental sustainability. In addition, villagers have planted over 2.5 million aloe vera plants which protect the trees and provide a source of livelihood. As a result, the ratio of girls to boys in Piplantri village has increased and girls are being given an equivalent position to boys in the village. The Piplantri 111 Trees has now spread to surrounding villages, broadening the respect and protection for girls.

Using village strengths to combat child labour and other exploitative practices: Building Child Friendly Villages

Combating child labour requires programme interventions that are comprehensive with a holistic approach that not only targets children, but also their families and communities, the recruiters, traffickers and exploiters, government officials, and society at large. There are millions of out-of-school children who have the potential to join the soaring numbers of child labourers. Efforts need to be made to prevent the entry of the non-child labourer into the labour market which fuels illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.

Creating people’s platforms (public hearings) where citizens can publicly challenge officials on the difference between promises and reality

MKSS activists and area residents investigate allegations of corruption in villages or districts, often at the initiative of local residents who feel they have been cheated or abused. At the village council or at higher levels of government they request copies of relevant official records. Once obtained, the accounts are cross-checked through site visits and interviews with villagers. MKSS then holds a public hearing at which the village officials, those accused of corruption, and community members can discuss the issue.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Data gathering to address child labor, sexual abuse and trafficking in the entertainment industry

Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) conducted an undercover survey of all circuses in India to discover the magnitude of child labor and trafficking in the circus industry. There is a serious problem of trafficking of young girls between Nepal and India (both countries are on the Tier 2 Watch list in U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report). The girls are trafficked for the purposes of slavery, including sexual slavery and prostitution.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using fake money to protest prevalence of bribery in public service sectors

The Anti Corruption movement, 5thPillar recently began distributing “Zero Rupee” notes to Indian citizens to give to any civil servant they come across that asks for a bribe. Corruption in the form of bribery is commonplace in India particularly in Chennai where the campaign began, and the Zero Rupee Note serves as a protest of this trend.

Empowering children with information, skills and support to advocate for their own rights

In India, the group Concerned for Working Children (CWC) enables children to create formal structures such as unions and governance bodies to advocate for their own rights. Through this work, CWC strengthens the participa­tion of children, especially those who are working or otherwise marginalized, in decision-making and governance on all matters that concern them. CWC has been actively involved in this cause since 1980 and is currently working in five Karnataka districts.

Creating a market to support fairly produced products

The Rugmark label, now known as GoodWeave, has become a known trademark to identify and promote hand-knotted carpets made without child labor. GoodWeave awards licenses to carpet exporters who agree not to use child labor and who voluntarily submit to a monitoring system that includes surprise inspections and cross-checking of export records and looms. Children who are found to be illegally working during inspections are rehabilitated and schooled by GoodWeave.

Right to Know, Right to Live: Building a campaign for the right to information and accountability

An audience of women in bright clothesMazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) has been deeply involved in a collective process which has shaped and influenced the Campaign for the Right to Information in India. MKSS makes the case that without access to information and transparency there can be no genuine participation from all members of society, particularly the poor, in democracy.

Child Friendly Villages: Using village strengths to combat child labour

Building Child Friendly Villages: Using village strengths to combat child labour and exploitative practices

Children wearving a carpetBachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Foundation) in India developed the concept and application of child friendly villages as a way to not only promote education for all but also combat the cycle of child labor. Child labor is both a cause as well as a consequence of poverty, illiteracy and lack of human security. The aim of child friendly villages is to create and sustain a child friendly atmosphere within the community to ensure education and put an end to child labor.

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