Anoyara Khatun was the victim of a very real threat to many Indian children. At age 12, Khatun became one of the millions of children who are trafficked every year. An organization called Save the Children rescued her from her life of domestic slavery, and since then she has been determined to be a part of the solution.
Upon returning to her village at age 13, Khatun realized that the situation was not much better for girls in her home in West Bengal than for girls in slavery. Girls from her home were forced into child marriages, and still more were being trafficked to cities.
According to the International Center for Research on Women, 47 percent of girls are married before age 18 in India. Meanwhile, a staggering 135,000 children are estimated to be trafficked in India annually.
When forced into marriage or work at a young age, children are robbed of their childhood; Khatun hopes to restore the gift of a childhood to young people in India.
Khatun joined the Save the Children’s Multi-Activity Centre almost immediately after escaping domestic slavery. However, she wasn’t able to reach as many Indian children as she thought was necessary to make a real impact.
Consequently, Khatun formed children groups throughout her village to discuss solutions to the rampant child marriage and trafficking in India, raise awareness about these issues and educate people about the dangers.
Over time, by working with Save the Children as well as a growing number of adults in the community, Khatun was able to accomplish amazing feats.
So far, she has been instrumental to reuniting 180 victims of trafficking with their families and rescuing 85 children from trafficking. She has also prevented 35 child marriages and registered 200 children into schools.
Recently, Khatun has expanded her horizons and joined many superstars in the charity world. She is working alongside Bill and Melinda Gates to push the Every Woman, Every Child initiative.
This initiative was launched during the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010. It includes a goal to “address the major health challenges facing women, children and adolescents around the world.”
Clearly, Anoyara Khatun has a unique perspective and fervor for child rights. She is changing the lives of Indian children every day.
– Sabrina Yates