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Child rights advocate Lalitha Natarajan wins 2023 Iqbal Masih Award

2023 Iqbal Masih Award

Chennai-based lawyer and activist Lalitha Natarajan has won US Department of Labor’s 2023 Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labour. Natarajan was presented the award by Consul General Judith Ravin at a ceremony in the US Consulate General in Chennai on May 30.

As a leader in the fight to end exploitative child labor in southern India, Natarajan identifies child victims of trafficking, specifically bonded labor, assisting in their reintegration into society, the US consulate in Chennai. In her role as a member of the Child Welfare Committee (North Zone), under the Department of Social Defence, Tamil Nadu, Natarajan ensures victims receive compensation under the Child Labor Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act . Besides working on child labour issues, Lalitha also provides legal and counseling support to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

About the Iqbal Masih Award:

The Iqbal Masih Award is a non-monetary award presented annually by the U.S. Secretary of Labor and administered by ILAB’s Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking. It was established by the U.S. Congress in 2008 to honor extraordinary contributions to combat child labor.

The award is named after Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani child who was sold into slavery at the age of four and forced to work in a carpet factory. He escaped at the age of ten and became an outspoken advocate for the rights of child laborers. He was assassinated in 1995 at the age of twelve.

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