……………. is a highly cherished hero to thousands of impoverished children and their families. Ms Bhosle is a renowned grassroots women’s rights and anti-child labor activist based in Kolhapur, India where more than 35,000 children are involved in daily labor for local industries. A former child-laborer herself at the age of six, she has spent the past 20 years fighting for the prevention of child exploitation, labor, trafficking, and female infanticide. Owning to her heroism and accomplishments Anuradha has been called the ‘Bandit Queen of India’s Social Movement’, likened to India’s legendary Bandit Queen Phoolan Devi. As founder of the WCRC (Women and Child Rights Campaign), Anuradha has educated, trained and empowered thousands of widowed, divorced and deprived women in the rural areas of India to stand up and fight for their rights as allowed by the Indian constitution.As founder of the AVANI organization, Anuradha has facilitated the rescue of 541 child laborers, provided 5,604 nomadic migrant children and school drop outs the right to health care and education, organized the construction of schools inside the brickyard labor camps and established a residential home for migrant children.If you ask Anuradha these days about her ultimate goal her response is often simply, “To rid Maharashtra of child slavery.”
Anuradha Bhosle: I know the agony of deprived childhood first hand: Since I was six I have slogged as a domestic help. I had to serve in four households. My routine started from six in the morning and continued till 11 am and then I rushed to my school. Sometimes on half – empty stomach. lt was heavy manual work, like cleaning of pots and pans, washing of clothes, sweeping and rubbing of floors. My employees however treated me sympathetically. Some of them gave me food. Later on the church supported my higher education, because of which I could obtain a university degree in social work. Education has enabled me to get gainful employment.
My personal experience was enough for me to understand the vulnerability of women and children who hail from the economically weaker sections. My life experience also proves the fact that given a fighting chance for self – improvement makes a world of difference for them.
An educated and earning woman like me saddled with the responsibility of children could be thrown into a helpless position. I could imagine what must be the plight of women who are in more vulnerable position than mine. Patriarchal society drives women to utterly desperate situations. My background and my experience and the stated aims and objects of AVANI are on the same page. lts mission as laid down in its constitution is to work for the enabling of the deprived sections of society to meet their basic human needs of food, clothing, shelter, useful education and healthful living. I got consent and encouragement from the AVANI board in my present activities. This factor strengthened my resolve to work for the upliftment of deprived children and their mothers.