Plight of street children in India


Until 1993, the term 'street child' was not present in the 'Official Vocabulary in India.' Until 1993, the Indian government did not fulfill their duty by protecting the rights and freedom of children. Until 1993, India had failed to completely recognize and acknowledge their growing street children epidemic. 'Street children' can be defined as both market and homeless children. All around the world, innocent children are stripped away from their sovereignties and placed on the cruel streets of their cities forcing them to create a living on their own. Both developed and developing countries, including Russia, Vietnam, Romania and Brazil, are negatively affected by the growing population of street children. Unfortunately, India is the home to the world's largest population of street children - eighteen million and counting. Throughout the last couple of years, India has achieved many accomplishments, including the rise of their economy and recognition around the world. However, neglecting the street children epidemic is unjust and overshadows their economic boost. According to Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it states that 'Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.' Street children are denied of each one of these rights, instigating the fact that innocent children are not being supported and cared for by their families, friends and the government. Street children in India are deprived from proper protection due to the negligence of their family, the unstable economic situation in the country and the lack of focus on their health care.

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        Street children are excluded from stable protection because children are neglected from the attention of their loved ones. When a child is born, he/she is entitled to be cherished, loved and sheltered. Children are extremely vulnerable and naïve; they do not know how to differ from right and wrong. When a child is abandoned and left isolated on the streets, they are uneducated about why they are alone. Thousands of kids blame themselves for their desertion, even though they are not to blame. In India, many street children are sexually, physically and mentally abused by their parents, and living on the streets leads them to being further exploited to child labour and prostitution. One of the main reasons that street children are abused by their parents in India is due to gender discrimination. Over the past generations, boys are undoubtedly favoured than girls. Boys are considered an asset since they can carry on the family name, help with the farmland and can continue their education longer than females. Sixty percent of the labour force in India is based on agriculture, meaning that men are more suitable for this intricate occupation. On the other hand, girls are regarded as a liability because parents have to raise dowry in terms of getting their daughter married, girls cannot carry on the family name and a vast majority of females do not receive the same amount of education as males, since parents do not look at schooling as an obligation. In accordance to Article 26 in the 'Universal Declaration of Independence', it states: Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Pilfering education from a child handicaps them and is one of the worst forms of punishments in the world. Even though women have triumphed and broken down bigotry barriers over the last decades, favoritism is evident in several parts of the world. In India, the female/male ratio is 927/1000, which is incredibly low in comparison to other countries. In some developing parts of India, girls may get aborted or killed at birth solely due to their gender.

        When a child is neglected from their loved ones, it creates long-term psychological problems. Maslow's hierarchy of needs outlines the basic needs of an individual: self-actualization, esteem, love/belonging, safety and physiological. Street children in India are extremely far away from reaching the top of Maslow's hierarchy, since homeless children are not introduced to proper health care, are not protected from the precarious people on the streets of India, are not accepted by their families thus leading to a low self-esteem. Street children are forced to face unwanted and awful obstacles at an extremely young age. Both girls and boys do not have a role model to follow, and try to survive day by day. Furthermore, when Charles Darwin introduced natural selection, in which he explained that individual organisms that are better adapted to their environments have a better chance of surviving; humans began to receive education, create reputations and establish families for themselves. In order to survive on the streets, children can go to extreme levels in order to have clothes and food. When parents neglect their own children, kids are negatively affected and conform to the other street children around them; monkey see, monkey do. With no one to tell them what's right and what's wrong, who's to stop them?

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        Street children are robbed from social security because they are not given the proper financial support that they deserve. India's economic situation changes on a weekly basis. Similar to other developing countries, the prices of production and labour inflates and/or deflates regularly. Following the world-wide recession, India has dealt with the economic problem better than some developed countries, such as the United States of America. The developing economy in India is great for the government, but what about the people? Even though India's monetary condition is reasonably settled, some rural and urban parts of the country are being faced with poverty and street children. 56.4% of India's population is in debt and the unemployment rate in India is 9.1%. People are having a difficult time paying off their debts, since the competition in the workforce is increasing and not enough jobs are available for everyone. With an increasing population, there is an increased demand for needs. We, as humans, meet those needs by consuming more resources. Consuming more resources declines the availability of supplies, which negatively harms the environment. The environment destruction and declining resources leads to scarcity and poverty. Resource scarcity explains the fact that if there is not enough food, hunger arises. If there is not enough water, people become thirst. If jobs are scarce, the unemployment rate rises. If money is scarce, poverty augments. Street children do not have enough food, water and a source of income in order to survive in India. Due to the need for basic necessities, children are forced to work for their money. Some of the activities that street children participate in are collect/sell paper, clean cars, sell newspaper, work in small hotels, beg, steal, and tend to animals and domestic labour.

        Being a developing country, the government of India is unable to entirely support all 1, 166, 079, 217 citizens; however that is not a justification for everyone. If an individual decides to have a baby, that human being is entitled to take care of that child. In India, many children are introduced to poverty; the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support. In certain circumstances, children from both middle and lower income families are forced to go onto the streets of their town in order to bring in more cash for the family. Are the parents being selfless or selfish? Parents who are telling their children to have no respect for themselves and bang on car doors simply to earn a rupee or two are utterly and shamefully selfish. Furthermore, families of lower caste systems are more prone to allowing their children to remain on the streets for days and nights. Caste systems are described as specific rankings that distinguish a lower class family from a higher class family. This system is originated from the city and/or town that a family lives in, the last name of that family and the amount of land a family owns. In foreign countries, such as Canada and the United States, it is difficult to comprehend the caste system, yet in India the system is completely straight forward. Families from lower castes are prone to force their children, both males and females, to plead on the streets of India.

        Street children are stripped from their rights when children are not being taken care of when he/she is affected by a health issue. In both developed and developing countries, both men and women tend to avoid the topic of health care. India has the largest number of street children in the age group of eight to eighteen years; these children are exposed to a risky social environment daily. Being on the streets instigates diseases because street children live and work amidst trash, animals and open sewers. The risk of getting diseases increases dramatically since dozens of Indians are immigrating and emigrating, in order to visit their relatives and be introduced to new environments. A majority of street children are not vaccinated and protected from harmful diseases including H1N1, Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus, significantly raising their possibilities of getting seriously ill and possibly facing death in the upcoming future.

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