Lalitha Natarajan, a prominent lawyer and activist from Chennai, has been honored with the prestigious Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labour by the U.S. Department of Labor. This recognition was presented to Natarajan by Consul General Judith Ravin at a ceremony held at the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai on May 30. Natarajan’s relentless efforts in combatting exploitative child labor in southern India have made her a leader in the field.
Championing the Cause:
As an advocate against child labor, Natarajan plays a vital role in identifying and assisting child victims of trafficking, particularly those trapped in bonded labor. She focuses on their successful reintegration into society, working closely with the Child Welfare Committee (North Zone) under the Department of Social Defence in Tamil Nadu. Natarajan ensures that these victims receive the compensation they deserve under the Child Labor Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Additionally, she extends her legal expertise and counseling support to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, showcasing her dedication to safeguarding vulnerable individuals.
The Significance of the Iqbal Masih Award
The Iqbal Masih Award, established by the U.S. Congress in 2008, is a highly esteemed recognition presented annually by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Administered by the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking within the U.S. Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), this non-monetary award aims to honor exceptional contributions made in the fight against child labor. The award’s name pays tribute to Iqbal Masih, a young Pakistani boy who was tragically sold into slavery at the tender age of four. Having escaped at ten, Iqbal Masih became an outspoken advocate for the rights of child laborers before his untimely assassination at the age of twelve.
Lalitha Natarajan: A Beacon of Hope
With her relentless commitment to eradicating child labor and her unwavering dedication to empowering its victims, Lalitha Natarajan has become a shining example of a compassionate activist. Her tireless efforts, combined with her legal expertise and advocacy, have made a significant impact in southern India. The Iqbal Masih Award recognizes and celebrates Natarajan’s exceptional contributions, inspiring others to join the fight against child labor and promoting a future free from exploitation.
Lalitha Natarajan’s well-deserved receipt of the Iqbal Masih Award serves as a powerful reminder of the ongoing battle against child labor and the significant impact one individual can make. Her relentless pursuit of justice, compassion for the victims, and dedication to creating a brighter future for children in southern India exemplify the values and mission of the award. Natarajan’s work continues to inspire and galvanize others to join the cause, ensuring that the rights and well-being of children remain at the forefront of the global fight against child labor.
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Lalitha Natarajan Receives Iqbal Masih Award – FAQs
Q1: What is the Iqbal Masih Award?
Ans: The U.S. Department of Labour bestows the Iqbal Masih Award each year in recognition of exceptional efforts made in the fight against child labour. It bears the name Iqbal Masih in honour of the child labourer and activist for their rights.
Q2: What role does Lalitha Natarajan play in combating child labor?
Ans: Lalitha Natarajan locates young people who have been subjected to human trafficking, particularly bonded labour, and helps them reintegrate into society. She makes sure that these victims are compensated in accordance with the applicable laws and offers legal and counselling support to those who have been the victims of sexual and domestic abuse.
Q3: What other initiatives does Lalitha Natarajan undertake?
Ans: In addition to working to end child labour, Lalitha Natarajan supports those who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault by offering legal and counselling services.