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A petition to help India's children

An e-mail containing an appeal to sign the petition below landed in my inbox this morning. The goal is to have 1 million "electronic" signatures on the petition (follow the link to add your support). As I post this thread there are around 220,000 signatures. Will it make a difference? At least the petition raises awareness.


Dear friends,

India is stalling the toughest child labour law in its history... because politicians say it’s not a ‘priority’! But the majority of MPs support it and all they need is a massive public push to bring it to a vote. Let´s raise our voices for India´s children.

The Indian Parliament is closing without passing the toughest child labour law in its history. Worse, the bill is supported by the majority of MPs, but it was ignored for weeks, because they felt it was not a ‘priority’!

India is the world’s child labour capital -- kids as young as five are sold to traffickers and forced to work as modern-day slaves, abused and beaten. The historic new bill would ban outright any child labour under 14 and provide stipends for poor families to keep their children in school. But MPs have let it fall off their agenda, and Indian child rights groups say they badly need our help, now, to ramp up the public pressure.

If the Avaaz community comes together, we can create a wave of attention to the bill, and push MPs to vote. Sign this urgent petition and forward it widely -- when we reach 1 million we’ll deliver our message to the Parliament with former child workers:

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A staggering Protected content children work in mines, quarries, and factories around the world. All nations have signed an agreement to put the eradication of child labour at the heart of their national education plans. But, India is home to the largest child labour force in the world. If the new law passes, it would ban all child labour for under 14-year-olds and all harmful work for under 18s. The law even has provisions to ensure it doesn’t hurt the poorest families -- enshrining the right to free education and proposing stipends to compensate any losses.

Critics say the real problem isn’t the law, it’s bad enforcement. And it’s true that in the last three years in India less than 10% of the 450,000 reports of child labour were prosecuted under the existing, weak, law. But the new law packs some serious punch. The police will no longer have to wait for a court order to act. All forms of commercial child labour under 14 will be criminalised, and instead of meaningless fines or short prison sentences, the criminals will face tough penalties.

While the majority of MPs say they'll support the bill, there's no political urgency to bring it to a vote. But each day they delay, more children are forced into a life of sweatshop misery. It’s up to us to push them over the edge. Sign the petition to India's MPs now, and share widely:

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The Avaaz community has campaigned to protect the children and the most vulnerable, time and time again. Just weeks ago, 1.2 million of us got together to help pass the most comprehensive education plan in Pakistan. How we treat our children is a reflection on our moral compass -- and it´s time to take firm steps against their abuse. Let’s join together to speak out for the future of India’s suffering children.

With hope and determination,

The Avaaz team


India proposes ban on child labor (Washington Post)
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Getting ready for the new law against child labour (The Hindu)
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Over 60 million child laborers in India (India Tribune)
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35 child workers rescued from Delhi factories (Business Line)
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End Child Labour and Educational Disadvantage - report and film
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