International street children 2013 – April 12th
This year, International Day for Street Children is being celebrated not to acknowledge the existence of at least a 100 million street children worldwide but to integrate them in our society, by making people like us aware of their existence, significance, rights and to see them as something other than a social issue or disease.
At the moment there are 1.2 million street children, abandoned and exploited, in Pakistan and 70,000 plus in Islamabad alone.
Street children can be broadly classified in to three categories:
The largest category are children who have homes but they work on the streets during the day and return to their families at the end of the day. They work to contribute to their limited family income and their major occupation is begging.
The day was launched by the Consortium for Street Children (CSC), which has more than 60 members worldwide. It is celebrated across the globe by street children, NGOs, individuals, celebrities, politicians, schools and the private sector with an aim to not only raise awareness about their rights among street children but also to bring in light the debilitating conditions the children survive in.
There are millions of children on the streets worldwide who are ignored, abused and their human rights violated on a daily basis. The ever increasing gap between the higher and lower social classes results in a large segment of children being pushed into poverty, where the statistics state that 40% of our population live below the poverty line and earn less than 1 US dollar a day. These children not only are deprived of basic human rights of food, shelter and protection but are also become an easy target for violence and emotional trauma. They have no support, no school, no family, and no healthcare. As early as four years of age, these children are forced into begging and scavenging garbage dumps or taking on menial jobs like dish washing, working 12-15 hours a day to earn around 75 rupees. Most of them survive by prostitution, stealing and smuggling. A number of these kids also fall victim to the false lures of ‘drug pushers’; the addiction becomes a way out for these children from their bleak futures and broken dreams.
A large portion of these children are ‘run away’, who are forced from their homes on to the streets because of poverty, corporal punishment, ignorance of families, step parents, peer pressure, natural disasters or militancy attacks.A big chunk of these children, shunned by society, also become a part of juvenile crimes, taking their misery as a misguided means to earn back their rights.
Organisations like the Consortium for Street Children can work with governments. Where families and communities are unable to care for children, it is the responsibility of the government to provide special protection and assistance to these children starting at district and tehsil level. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) state that all children have a right to survival, development, protection from harm, and to participate in decisions which affect their lives. Different NGO’s and individuals in Pakistan are working to create a better future for street children and to improve their standard of living. Recently, Azad Foundation sponsored a team of street children to play football in Street Child World Cup 2014 in Rio Dejenario, Brazil. The World Cup being held is more than a game; it is a global campaign to gain rights of street children through football, art and international audience. NAYS is celebrating this day to raise awareness about the plight of street children and to encourage people to be helping hands for these poor souls.
street children 2013 Article by Fatima Sajid
National Academy of Young Scientists (NAYS) Pakistan,