On the occasion of Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, 17-year-old V. Kanaka would be addressing the Parliament on the issue of child labour, The New Indian Express reported.
Kanaka’s address would bear a special significance as she was forced to work as a child labour for twelve years.
She is among the 30 children who have been selected from across the nation to deliver speeches at an event organised by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Kanaka is the only one who has been selected from Karnataka after three rounds of auditions. She is due to speak in the Parliament for about eight minutes.
A childhood full of struggles
Born in a slum of Bengaluru, Kanaka has always had a hard life. Her father was differently-abled, and the family depended only on Kanaka’s mother’s earnings. She worked as a maid to make the two ends meet and send Kanaka to school only until Standard 4.
However, Kanaka’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, and it was at this juncture that she was compelled to leave school.
Kanaka started working in three houses to earn daily bread for her family. A few months later, when Kanaka’s mother died, she was forced to live with her relatives. There she was put through emotional, physical and mental abuse.
Her relatives made her work in wedding halls, and it was in one such wedding hall in Yeshwanthpur, that she was spotted by people from SPARSHA, an NGO that fights against child labour. She was rescued by the NGO in 2011.
A different life altogether
Currently, she is in the first year of her Pre University course in a private college in Bengaluru. A bright student, Kanaka had scored 80% on her tenth board exams and aspired to become a scientist later in her life.
Kanaka is elated to get this opportunity to speak on child labour in the Parliament. Talking to The New Indian Express, Kanaka said, “I feel that though there are several laws to protect child rights, nothing is enforced effectively. I am going to stress the same in Parliament.”
She believes that a lot more can be done to help the children in rural areas who are victims of various kinds of abuses and are not aware as to how to go about them.
According to the International Labour Organisation, millions of Indian children are still employed as domestic help. More than 100,000 are in the national capital. More than 12 million children who are between the ages of 5-14 work in dangerous environments like those of construction, beedi making, fireworks and bangles industries.
India tops the list when it comes to the number of children still living and working in bonded labour and slave conditions with China coming a distant second.
Given these statistics, it is appreciable for Kanaka to achieve such a feat.
The Logical Indian salutes the grit and determination of Kanaka who has travelled a long distance in her life after overcoming many hurdles. She is an inspiration to us all; we wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
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